Agnès Varda, the luminary director of acclaimed French New Wave films like Faces Places and Cléo From 5 to 7, has died at the age of 90. Her family confirmed her passing in a statement on Friday, per Variety, saying she died of breast cancer surrounded by family and friends in her Paris home. A funeral is expected to take place in Paris on Tuesday.
Varda’s widely acclaimed career as a director included 24 feature films over more than 60 years. Her last film Varda by Agnès premiered just last month at the Berlin Film Festival, where she was presented with the honorary Berlinale Camera award. She won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival in 1965 for her film Le Bonheur.
Varda was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1928 and moved with her family to the south of France during World War II. She took an interest in photography and film early on, eventually directing her first feature film, La Pointe Courte, while she was still in her mid-20s. Her star rose quickly and she went on to make some of the most influential films in the French New Wave, inspiring other directors like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut with her brave and independent style. She was also held up for her work advocating for women’s rights in the predominantly male film world, and her films often contained candid discussions of women’s issues that were striking for the time period.
Varda’s only Academy Award nomination was for Best Documentary Feature for 2017’s Faces Places, which she made while traveling around the French countryside and meeting local villagers with the French graffiti artist JR. She also received an honorary Academy Award, or Governors Award, that same year for her lifelong dedication to film. Her works are included on Paste’s lists of the best French films of all time and the best documentaries of all time, and her film Faces Places was included in our list of the best films of 2017. We named her among the most innovative working filmmakers last January.
Varda is survived by her two children, Rosalie Varda and Mathieu Demy.
See a few early tributes to the revered filmmaker below.