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Agnès Varda’s fascination with California culture has resulted in a number of uniquely beautiful films shot in the Golden State, films that subtly capture the director’s ambivalent, complicated and ultimately loving feelings about America.
The 1981 feature Documenteur is a moving work of autobiographical fiction about a young French woman (Sabine Mamou) in Los Angeles as she copes with a recent breakup and wanders the city in search of a home for her and her son (played by Varda’s real-life son, Mathieu Demy). Aptly subtitled “An Emotion Picture,” this mysterious, serenely melancholic film is a meditative portrait of urban isolation overflowing with visual poetry. (Dir. by Agnès Varda, 1981, USA/France, in French/English with English subtitles, 65 mins., Not Rated)
Documenteur will be preceded by two of Agnès Varda’s short films also made in California: Black Panthers (1968, 28 mins.), in which Varda turns her camera on an Oakland demonstration against the imprisonment of activist and Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton; and Uncle Yanco (1967, 19 mins.), Varda’s first American film – a groovy, sun-kissed portrait of ‘60s California, detailing her journey to meet a long-lost bohemian relative living in Sausalito. (Total program running time: 112 mins.)

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