Photo of the Week


The upside-down innards of the Conciergerie shown on a tarp on the facade and reflected in the Seine. © Paris Update


Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Monster contemporary art fair
> FIAC: 189 galleries show their wares in the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Art on the Champs
> Art Élysées: 75 modern and contemporary art and design galleries in tents on the world's most famous boulevard. Champs Elysées, Paris, Oct. 20-24.

Asian art
> Asia Now: 30 contemporary galleries showing work by Asian artists. 9, av. Hoche, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Art brut
> Another kind of art at the Outsider Art Fair. Hotel du Duc, Paris, Oct. 22–25.

Art in a townhouse
> Paris Internationale: contemporary art fair in a Parisian townhouse. 51, avenue d'Iéna, Paris, Oct. 19-23.

Young international artists
> YIA Art Fair: Youth takes precedence at this art fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Digital art
> Variation: Contemporary digital art fair. Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, Oct. 18-23.

“Music for old people”
> Le Classique C'est pour les Vieux: The ironically titled music festival holds classical concerts in skateparks, cafés, artists' studios and other unusual venues and incorporates street art, 3D performances and more. Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Film festival for kiddies
> Mon 1er Festival: some 400 screenings, premiers and more for kids aged two and up. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 19-25.


For Brassens fans
> The annual 22V'laGeorges Festival celebrates what would have been the great singer’s 95th birthday this year in his hometown of Sète. Oct. 22-29.

Refugee children speak through art


> From Syria with Love, an exhibition of drawings by Syrian refugee children. Galerie CInq, 5 rue du Cloitre St Merri, 75004 Paris, through Oct. 21.

Classic Danish films
> Festival of movies by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Nov. 6.

Jazz galore
> Paris's leading jazz clubs cooperate for the festival Jazz sur Seine, with special prices for concerts, showcases and master classes. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 22.

Cultures of the world onstage
> Music, dance, theater and ritual performances from around the world at the Festival de l'Imaginaire. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 20.

Strange Happenings in St. Germain
> The exhibition Bizarro, with works by a number of artists, fills seven Left Bank galleries with “Bêtes de Scènes et Sacrés Monstres.” Don’t miss the Meta-perceptual Helmets by the Irish duo Cleary/Connolly
at the Librairie Alain Brieux, which allow the viewer to see forward and backward, for example, or the way a cyclops or horse would see. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 30.

Contemporary arts festival
> The Festival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Amazing gardens
> The popular Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loireis held annually in the park of the Château de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire, through Nov. 2.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.


Film - Drama


Les Plages d’Agnès

Mirrors in the Sand

les plages d'agnes, agnes varda
Agnès Varda looks for reflections of her youth.

Agnès Varda, the great filmmaker and one of the few women associated with Nouvelle Vague cinema, has reached the age of 80. And, if her new movie is anything to go by, there are no signs of her slowing down.

Les Plages d’Agnès charts Varda’s life and work, casting an affectionate and occasionally wistful eye over the many extraordinary people she has known, most of them now dead. It would be all too easy and perhaps understandable for her to be self-indulgent, but her humor and constant inventiveness rarely allow her to stray into the realm of the maudlin.

From the very beginning of the film, her creative energy is astonishing as we watch her setting up a bank of mirrors on a Belgian beach while she muses on her childhood. Instead of focusing on conventional memories, she concentrates on the group of young workers who are helping her to place the mirrors in the sand, perhaps reflecting her own youth through these younger faces in mirrors rather than simply giving a straightforward account.

This is typical of her generosity throughout, as she talks about not only the famous people she has known (there are many), but also her local baker or grocer or grandchildren.

Her most tender memories are reserved for her husband, the wonderful film director, Jacques Demy, who died in 1990 of an AIDS-related illness; these observations complement the trio of films she made in his honor in the years following his death.

Sometimes her cinema goes beyond autobiography or fiction and becomes almost performance art. This is very much the case in various recreated scenes from her childhood or in her conversations with a cartoon cat.

She also retraces the trajectory of many of her movies, walking through the streets of Paris and visiting Los Angeles, where she lived for a number of years. It is typical of her that she does not dwell only on her successes but seems just as fascinated by her relatively few failures, such as Les Cent et une Nuits de Simon Cinéma, made to mark 100 years of cinema. The affection in which she is clearly held is demonstrated at the end of the film, on her 80th birthday, when 80 people arrive to mark the day.

The overall effect is of a woman who is politically and personally committed, compassionate yet feisty. I suspect that there are more movies to come from her, and thank heaven for that.

James Gascoigne

© 2008 Paris Update

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