Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Gleaners & I (2000)

WHO: Agnès Varda made this documentary, and appears in it too.

WHAT: Late in life, Varda has focused her energy on documentaries, weaving personal, poetic essays in visual form.  Inspired by famous 19th-century paintings of "gleaners", and by the French law that allows people to take food from a farmer's field after a harvest, in this film she playfully investigates a wide array of modern gleaners, from artists and anarchists to the Roma.  But ultimately the film is a touching self-investigation, as Varda recognizes her own status as a gleaner of images others would throw away.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Pacific Film Archive at 7:00 PM

WHY: I unfortunately was unable to attend last night's screening of L'Opéra-Mouffe and two other of Varda's earlier shorts last night after all, but I'm hoping to be able to pull myself away from other projects to make it tonight. The Gleaners & I is one of my very favorite of Varda's films, one I've seen several times already, and one I'd particularly love to hear the filmmaker speak about in person.

It's hard to think of a more appropriate day to see it than on an election day, as "gleaning" is something inscribed in the French legal system. It's a cold hard fact that much of the quality of life for the materially impoverished is at the mercy of the laws a society enacts, so it's important for all of us to exercise our democratic voice when we have the opportunity to. You won't want to attend tonight's screening guiltily knowing you missed a chance to weigh in on propositions whose passage or failure are likely to increase or decease economic inequality in the region.

HOW: 35mm print with Varda in person.

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