French Filmmaker Awarded Honorary Oscar

Agnès Varda

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded Agnès Varda an honorary Oscar for her 62-year career in film. This is Varda's first Oscar. She has previously won multiple awards for her work, including the Golden Lion at the 1985 Venice Film Festival for her film Vagabond.

Born in Ixelles, Belgium, Varda was initially interested in art and still photography. She became an influential figure in the French New Wave movement after her first film, La Pointe Courte, was released in 1955. Varda is known for a neorealist documentary style of film making and is sometimes called the "Mother of the New Wave". Her most famous work is the real-time drama Cléo from 5 to 7, released in 1962. She is credited with bringing a female-based viewpoint to the male-dominated world of New Wave cinema. She was married to French director Jacques Demy until his death in 1990 and even released a film, Jacquot de Nantes, about his early life. Her latest film is the documentary Faces, Places, released earlier this year at Cannes where it won the L'Œil d'or for best documentary.

Varda received her Academy Honorary Award at the Governors Awards on November 11. Actress Angelina Jolie presented the award to Varda, praising her for her contributions to cinema. In her speech, Varda stated that she felt that the award is a recognition of both her body of work and French cinema. Overcome with emotion, she began an impromptu dance on stage and was joined by Angelina Jolie, with both women dancing to a jazzy tune. Charles Burnett, Owen Roizman and Donald Sutherland also received Academy Honorary Awards for their careers in cinema during the ceremony. Varda will also appear on the red carpet at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on March 4.

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