September 22, 1940-December 14, 2019
Although Anna Karina had a career beyond Godard, much of what she embodied as an actor is concentrated in her collaborative works with him, beginning with Le Petit Soldat (1960) that was released following Une femme est une femme (1961). With Vivre sa vie (1962) Karina became an icon of the French New Wave. The film is a modernist fallen-woman melodrama, and Karina’s ability to draw one into her character’s search for freedom in a society that oppresses women is central to the film. For example, the close-up of Nana’s tear-stained response to Dreyer’s Joan of Arc is more than a film reference; her authentic expression of empathy is breathtaking. Nana’s free-form dance around the pool table in the café, succinctly communicates the impulse and desire freedom so central to the character. Karina’s Nana embodies a strong sense of personal agency within a restrictive social world marked by a fatalism that overrules individual choice. Her performance gives the film an integrity and genuineness that was essential to Godard’s commentary on alienation within urban life.
May 30, 1928-March 29, 2019
Agnès Varda’s career has been justly celebrated and recognized in recent years, summarized by her final film, Varda by Agnès (2019) that attests to the wide range of artistic media she embraced in her long career. Originally connected to the Left Bank group of filmmakers, she was a distinctive artist whose work effaced the boundaries of fiction/document in her personal responses to the subjects she explored, culminating in Faces/Places (2017). Varda worked in a male-dominant world in which she was an anomaly. At the same time she should be remembered as the original artist she was, with a strong sense of self, beyond any limiting categorization.