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Pioneering filmmaker Agnès Varda has died

The icon’s legacy will live on in how she shaped the film industry for women

French-filmmaker and boundary-breaking figure for women in film Agnès Varda has died at age 90 from complications with cancer. Just shy of 91, the news of Varda’s death was confirmed this morning by her family.

The icon’s radical and feminist lens paved the way for women in film for over 60 years. Her first production, La Pointe Courte, kick-started the French New Wave, while she fought for women’s rights into her late 80s. Other seminal Varda films include her 1961 production Cléo from 5 to 7, which captured the spirit of 1960s Paris, and Vagabond (1984) which addressed France’s deeply embedded misogyny.

Varda was master in blending documentary realism and social commentary with experimental film (to produce what she called "Daguerréotypes"), which provoked thought on contextually taboo feminist topics like sexual liberty and reproductive rights. Her works also brought to life the counter-cultural spirit of the revolutionaries that surrounded her, including the Black Panthers and Los Angeles' Chicano muralists. 

In 2017, she became the first female director to win an honorary Oscar, proceeded by her becoming the oldest Oscar nominee in history after she was shortlisted for a documentary feature in 2018. She was also one of only two female filmmakers to win a Palme d’Or award at Cannes.