Documentary co-directed by artist JR won top nonfiction prize at Cannes Film Festival
Visages Villages (Faces Places) will get a major boost as awards season kicks into gear, landing a slot in the prestigious New York Film Festival.
The festival, set to run from September 28-October 15 at Lincoln Center, announced its main slate on Tuesday, a selection of 25 films of which Visages Villages is the single documentary. Filmmaking legend Agnès Varda and the visual artist JR directed the film that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it won L'Oeil d'or (Golden Eye) -- the top prize for a documentary.
As I look at this slate of beautiful work... the overall balance between frankness and artistry holds me in awe.
Woody Allen, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Agnieszka Holland, Noah Baumbach and Claire Denis are among the filmmakers with fictional work accepted into the festival.
"As I look at this slate of beautiful work, I could just make a series of simple observations," festival director Kent Jones noted, "that these films come from all over the globe; that there is a nice balance of filmmakers known and unknown to many here in New York; that the overall balance between frankness and artistry holds me in awe..."
Varda celebrated her 89th birthday shortly after the Cannes Film Festival concluded.
"Her eyesight is failing, as she talks about in the film. This is probably the last film she'll make," Thom Powers, a member of the documentary jury at Cannes, told Nonfictionfilm.com back in May.
Powers, the co-director of DOC NYC and documentary programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival, spoke glowingly of Visages Villages.
"It's a beautiful collaboration between two big talents [Varda and JR] and it's a real merging of their different talents," he told us. "I would say that the form of the film is very much in keeping with Agnes Varda's voice from films like The Gleaners and I and Beaches of Agnes. But JR's contribution to the film is a major one. I think what elevates this film is the combination of those great talents."
The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis also hailed the film at Cannes.
"It’s an exquisite, achingly moving nonfiction ramble on memory and history, cats and goats, in which JR and Ms. Varda, a vigorous 88, wander from one French hamlet to the next while rummaging through the past, summoning up old loves and searching for lost friends," she wrote.
Screening at the New York Film Festival may gave the film helpful momentum as awards season begins in earnest. Last year, Ava DuVernay's 13th premiered at NYFF, before going on to earn an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.