The Capitol open for business with Agnès Varda retrospective

One of the first seasons to feature at the revitalised Capitol will feature films by the “grandmother of the French New Wave”, celebrated filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Agnès Varda’s tireless curiosity for people, place and cinematic experimentation within the worlds of fiction and documentary had a profound impact on the medium of filmmaking.

She was part of the French New Wave, a movement characterised by films that ignored the rules of the French industry, working outside the studio systems, forgoing large budgets, shooting on location, and experimenting with the established narratives and formal elements of cinema.

Varda broke ground in this field with her debut feature La Pointe Courte (1954), an important precursor to the French New Wave.

Before La Pointe Courte, Varda had no formal training or exposure to the French studio system.

“In an article in The Guardian in 2019 she told them it was easy to break the rules of filmmaking because she never knew them in the first place,” said ACMI Director of Film Programs and Viva Varda curator Kirsty Matheson.

“When she started making movies, she had only seen about 10 films in her life.”

Scene from Varda's La Pointe Courte (1954)

The Viva Varda season highlights the unique characteristics of her work through 11 features, three shorts and one public talk.

It forms part of the ‘Essential’ series, presented by ACMI, Sydney Film Festival and the National Film and Sound Archive since 2015.  The series is an annual retrospective program which encourages audiences to engage with the great masters of cinema.

Matheson said Varda’s name came up early in discussions about the 2019 season, and all parties jumped at the chance to pursue it.

“She is undoubtedly one of the most essential voices in cinema and easily sits alongside the previous directors we’ve presented.

“The defining qualities of inclusivity, creativity and humanity span Agnès Varda’s entire artistic legacy," Matheson said.

“The real joy of these programs is that they serve as excellent introductions for new audiences and allow established fans to revisit key works.”

Interior of The Capitol, following a multi-million dollar refurbishment

Creative Producer of The Capitol Ghita Loebenstein said she was thrilled to come on board as the venue partner for Viva Varda.

“This season comes right after our reopening and I couldn’t think of a more irreverent, passionate and life-affirming filmmaker to launch with.”

Agnès Varda passed away in March this year, aged 90, leaving a legacy of filmmaking behind.

Screening between 21-30 June, Viva Varda is one of the first seasons to play at The Capitol following its multi-million-dollar refurbishment.

For further details and tickets visit


Story: Isabella Radevski


  • Arts and culture

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