Edition 2023


La Pointe Courte, from photographs to film

Agnès Varda cherished a particular fondness for Sète. Sétoise by adoption as a teenage refugee there during World War II, she returned to the town every year until the beginning of the 1960’s. She began in 1947 as an amateur photographer, then turned professional. Her Rolleiflex captured friends, sailors, the quays of the southern town, water jousts on the canals… and soon the fisherfolk and narrow traverses of Pointe courte, the working-class neighborhood by the Étang de Thau that anchors her first film, shot in 1954.

Agnès Varda’s contact sheets reveal her photographic journey. When we compare the 800-odd photos she took in Sète with the painstaking selection the young woman undertook in 1953 to prepare her film, we begin to see her vision. These are not film stills of the shooting or the set, but images antedating the idea of the film or forming part of its conception. These reference and scouting photographs, collected on nine sheets, were her inspiration for scenes, atmospheres, even particular shots. Her favorite subjects and motifs are confirmed by their reappearance in contemporary or subsequent prints.

Alternating a graphic and a realist style, Agnès Varda produced a radical film, appreciated by cinephiles and critics of the time. Many saluted the originality of its script and especially the daring of its maker, known as the official photographer of the Festival d’Avignon and the Théâtre National Populaire. Produced on a shoestring, La Pointe Courte’s artistic independence broke with the codes of the era’s cinema to the point of being qualified as a precursor of the Nouvelle Vague.

With her first photography show in June in her courtyard on the rue Daguerre (Paris 14) and the shooting that summer of her first film, 1954 crystallized for Varda the connection between these two modes of expression, announcing a unique body of work.

Carole Sandrin

Curator: Carole Sandrin, assisted by Elisa Magnani.

With the help of Rosalie Varda and the Ciné-Tamaris team: Shérine El Sayed Taih, Jules Martin.

Exhibition coproduced by the Institut pour la Photographie des Hauts-de-France and the Rencontres d’Arles. 

With support from Kering | Women In Motion.

AGNÈS VARDA, CARNETS DE L’INSTITUT ; VARDA, LA POINTE COURTE (textes de Carole Sandrin) delpire & co / l’Institut pour la photographie de Lille, 2023.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture