One of my heros is Agnes Varda and it is such an honour to be screening along side her work at the Emporium Brighton 10th April 2016 at 6:30 pm
‘WOFFF are delighted to be preceding The Beaches of Agnès with a short film selected for show in last year’s WOFFF festival, Ban an Farriage (Woman of the Sea), by filmmaker Trisha McCrae.
THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS (2008)
(LES PLAGES D’AGNÈS)
CERT 18 / 110 MINS / FRANCE / DIR: AGNÈS VARDA
The film is a memoir documentary from Agnès Varda, one of French cinema’s most enduring directors. Originally part of the Rive Gauche contingent of the French New Wave, she made her name with Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962). Over half a century later, Varda has countless feature films, documentaries, and art installations to her name, many of which are revisited in this autobiographical portrait, which she made aged 80.
Join Agnès on this fluid, dreamlike, naughty and nostalgic stroll down the beaches of her memory.
Dreamland is excited to be joining forces with the Women Over Fifty Film Festival this month to bring you The Beaches of Agnès. WOFFF aims to put women over fifty on screen, or behind the camera, starting with monthly one-off screenings throughout 2016, leading up to their annual short film festival in October.
Before the screening Nuala O’ Sullivan from WOFFF asked me a few questions.
1. How would you describe your film work?
My work is often raw, immediate and provocative. I use film and the editing process to tell stories which carry powerful personal meaning. I experiment with creating visual streams of consciousness that further enrich our experience of time.
My films have narratives but not in the scripted sense, instead they are fragments or sequences which possess a mood. They have an ‘internal logic’ in the Focillion sense. They have underlying signs that link to a thematic content or harmony.
I am particularly interested in making films that relate to sounds and texts, to the ways people see; to the theory of the visual and the minds eye. The idea is to promote different types of viewing that will transfer our attention from what we look at, to us as the subject.
I love the immediacy of film and how it allows us to examine, extend and shift reality, even to the extent of abstraction. Through the editing process and increasingly the expanded space, I investigate theatrical experiences that lure the viewer into a perceptual and intimate world where they can participate in the act of seeing, so that they can move from a conscious level of looking to a more unconscious level and project elements of their own memories, desires and fears onto what they see.
2.Why did you make Ban an Farraige? What was your inspiration, your motivation?
I was brought up by the sea and spent most of my childhood on the beach. Elements of the sea feature in most of my films. I am also a huge Samuel Beckett fan and when I came across the stone sequence in Molloy, I wanted to explore this theme from a philosophical and feminist point of view. I asked my sister Catherine, who adores the sea, to be involved as the performance artist and she agreed.
I wanted to make a film that shows the viewer that the only reality we have is the reality that we create ourselves. Seeing this woman talking to herself and endlessly sweeping the sand is a metaphor for her life. We, the viewer, can see the strange activity of sucking stones is not normal but to her is it completely normal, it’s her reality that she has created herself.
3. How do you work with other artists in your film/s? Is the work scripted, improvised, devised collaboratively or created in another way?
My work is enriched by collaboration. When I work with others it brings a new energy. Whether its a residency involving performers, or a silent movie with live musicians, or an installation of several films in a domestic setting. Each encounter brings with it a new flavour to my work. As an experimental film maker I use non-diegetic sounds and rarely use the sound associated with the visual. Instead of scripting the dialogue word for word, I orchestrate an overall mood for each film. I choose each performance artist for each particular film and sometime make the piece around them.
At the moment I am working with a french sculptor on an film installation that will tour gallery spaces. This project is a 50-50 collaboration. We both have the ideas and we both discuss each step in detail. He brings with him a priority of using music as the inspirational source for each element of the film and I prioritise visuals so from the beginning it has been a really interesting venture. We are sourcing our locations and performers locally from the artist community on our doorstep. It involves dancers, musicians and performance artists. As an example we recently directed an experienced performer from Budapest. We gave her the idea of what we were looking for and let her unlock, feel and articulate the movement herself. What she came up with was amazing, totally original and exciting. My films are all created with these types of moments.
3. What language is the film title? (I think it’s Gaelic. Is that right?) Why did you choose that title in that language?
Ban an Farriage is Irish for Woman of the Sea. When you live abroad you suddenly get this urge to connect with your roots. I identify with EE.Cummings when he said ‘Its always yourself you find by the sea.” For me the sea has been and still is a place where I can find myself. This is why I am so honoured to be paired with Agnes Varde who is also an aquatic soul.
4. What connections do you see between The Beaches of Agnes & Ban an Farraige?
There are many connections between The Beaches of Agnes and my film. Apart from the obvious connection of the beach both Varda and I enjoy exploring form and spacing and rhythm in our films; we both use family as collaborators and combine techniques of stop motion, stills and live action together; we both love to find creative combinations to startle and excite our viewer and use the waves to draw attention; we both blur the boundaries between our own life and memories from our past and lastly we both roam the beach with the camera to glean its wonders for our audience.
Thank you Nuala for giving me this opportunity to screen beside this wonderful poetical piece.
Trisha McCrae. 2016.