WHAT: One of the "boni" on the Cinema Guild DVD for Varda's Cinévardaphoto triptych of shorts is an inventive three-way (Varda with Anne Huet & Alain Bergala) interview-film called From the Rooster To the Donkey (Hands and Objects), in which the legendary French filmmaker discusses her parallel career as a short filmmaker, a career that would distinguish her as a major film artist on its own, if only it weren't overshadowed by the many tremendous feature films she's directed since filming La Pointe Courte nearly sixty years ago.
In this "bonus", Varda discusses L'Opéra-Mouffe a.k.a. Diary of a Pregnant Woman, placing it as the first short film she made on her own volition. (O saisons, ô châteaux preceded it but that was a commissioned work she feels less than passionate about.) She says:
I was pregnant. I shot on La Mouffe, the rue Mouffetard, a documentary about its people. Back then, the neighborhood was mostly cafes and poor people. It was really a poor area. There were no toilets. Just buckets put out every morning. And there was the market. I shot the film with the impression that the more fulfilled I was, [...] the more I saw how poor the people on that street were. I wanted to blur the line between the belly that eats and the belly that makes a baby. I did that film on my own, with my own money. [Actor] Gérard Philipe's wife lent me a camera. [...] I quickly understood that the desire to make a short film was enough, or nearly. Especially now, with all these little cameras to borrow. You can do a lot with very little. I don't worship poverty, and I don't worship money. What does seem important is the ability to move quickly from desire to realization.WHERE/WHEN: Screens on a program starting at 7:00 tonight only at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.
WHY: Tonight's screening of L'Opéra-Mouffe along with two other Varda-directed shorts (the Frisco Bay-made Uncle Yanco and Black Panthers, neither of which I've seen in full) is not just an opportunity to see rarely-screened works on the big screen; it's an opportunity to do so with one of France's great living directors in person. On her way to Hollywood, where she will be the Guest Artistic Director at AFI Fest (wish I were able to go this year), Varda will be visiting Berkeley to appear with her short films tonight, and with her tremendous The Gleaners & I tomorrow. Both screenings are said to be sold out, so if you don't have tickets already, you're probably out of luck (though arriving at the PFA early with a "I need a miracle" sign couldn't hurt). There are still tickets available to see the remaining programs in the PFA's Varda tribute, Le Pointe Courte in 35mm Friday and Cléo From 5 to 7 in a new DCP in two and a half weeks, but Varda will not be on hand for those showings.
Varda was involved in writing French dialogue for Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris, which screens in 35mm this Thursday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, making it possible to see a Varda-related film four out of five weeknights this week.
HOW: L'Opéra-Mouffe and Uncle Yanco screen in 35mm tonight, while Black Panthers screens in 16mm, the latter two in new restorations since their last PFA appearance in 2009.