Film by Agnès Varda and JR earns best doc prize at ceremony in Santa Monica
Faces Places entered Oscar Sunday with a boost from the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
The film by Agnès Varda and the artist JR was named best documentary Saturday at the annual event on the beach in Santa Monica, California. It triumphed over Last Men in Aleppo, a fellow Oscar nominee. The other Spirit contenders were The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson; Motherland, directed by Ramona S. Diaz, and Quest, directed by Jonathan Olshefski.
We feel good to be in a place where independence is so important.
Varda, 89, and her co-director JR, 34, attended the ceremony and accepted the prize together. On stage, JR alluded to microphones at the podium that partly obscured the diminutive Varda.
"They didn’t plan that you would be so short," he joked.
For their film, the cinematic odd couple traveled around rural France in a van equipped with a photo studio, engaging ordinary people at various stops. They took photos of many of their subjects, printed them in large format and pasted them to the walls of buildings and other grand surfaces, giving people an outsize perspective on their lives.
Despite their age gap, JR attested to the strength of his bond with Varda.
"We just met each other and had an instant friendship and went on the road together," he told the Independent Spirit Awards audience. "And to be here today and be recognized for this film and to have gone through this journey with all the people that have supported us -- this started more independent than anything, because people gave money online basically so we could start the film."
Varda added, "We could also have been [nominated] in the category ‘film made with little money.’"
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.