Inspired by Jean-François Millet’s painting The Gleaners, Agnès Varda sets out to find the gleaners of our contemporary world: gatherers, recyclers, and genuine treasure hunters. Armed with a digital camera for the first time, the director comes to recognize herself as a gleaner as well, salvaging images and ideas from what might otherwise be lost to the cutting-room floor.
Agnès Varda—professional photographer, installation artist, and pioneer of the Nouvelle Vague—is an institution of French cinema, and yet she fiercely opposes institutional thinking of any kind. This film offers insights into her oeuvre, using excerpts from her work to illustrate her artistic vision. Revisiting over 60 years of personal and professional life, Varda takes us on a journey through her world of unorthodox images.
Two young women become friends in early 1960s Paris. Pomme is an aspiring singer. Suzanne, already a mother of two, is pregnant and unable to support a third child. Pomme lends Suzanne the money for an illegal abortion, but a sudden tragedy soon separates them. Ten years later, they reunite at a protest and pledge to keep in touch via postcard. Both of their lives are irrevocably changed by the women’s liberation movement.
The body of a young woman is found frozen in a ditch. From that point forward, the story of Mona, a defiant drifter, is pieced together through flashbacks told by those who knew her, resulting in a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman.
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