Films & Schedules

  • La Pointe courte

  • Agnès Varda

90 minutes
Black and White/35mm

Production Company:
Ciné Tamaris
Agnès Varda
Louis Stein
Alain Resnais
Georges Mardiguian
Pierre Barbaud
Principal Cast: Silvia Monfort, Philippe Noiret

Tuesday September 0906:30PM JACKMAN HALL - AGO Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

La Pointe courte introduced one of French cinema's most unique directors. Hailed as an early member of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda's background as a photojournalist informed her impressive debut feature. It also shaped her independent filmmaking voice, which remained distinct from other Nouvelle Vague directors, whose backgrounds were predominantly in film theory and criticism.

La Pointe courte alternates between two storylines. In one, a young Parisian couple discuss their rocky marriage while vacationing in a small Mediterranean fishing village. In the other, the village residents struggle to maintain their livelihoods in the face of authorities trying to limit where they can fish. Each storyline is presented in a different style. For the couple's conversations, Varda employs carefully choreographed movements, positioning the twosome in beautifully stylized compositions. The actors – Silvia Monfort and Phillippe Noiret – deliver philosophical dialogues in a carefully mannered way. By contrast, the lives of the villagers are shown in a realist style, the camera flowing freely to capture their days as they happen. The villagers play themselves, and the non-professional cast – who use their everyday colloquial speech – are credited by Varda as co-writers.

Varda brilliantly weaves together these juxtaposed styles to create a compelling wholeness from the contrasting parts. As the couple wanders through the village and along the seaside, they repeatedly cross paths with the villagers – at one point, a local comments that their marriage must be in trouble because they talk too much. Varda's photographic eye and keen sense of composition are evident throughout, capturing the beauty and poetry of the villagers' lives while maintaining a matter-of-fact approach, showing joy and sadness free from melodrama. The masterful blending of expressionism and realism made La Pointe courte a stunning debut, a lasting treasure and an influential work on the New Wave that followed.

Agnès Varda was born in Brussels and is a renowned figure in modern film history. Her first feature, La Pointe courte (54), was one of the key precursor films of the French New Wave. Select films include Cléo de 5 à 7 (62), Le Bonheur (65), L'Une chante, l'autre pas (77), Sans toit ni loi (85), Jacquot de Nantes (91), Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (00), Cinévardaphoto (04) and Les Plages d'Agnès (08), which is screening in this year's Festival.

Cadillac People's Choice Award