Director Agnès VARDA, who experiences blurry vision due to presbyopia, suggests JR, a renowned photographer who always wears a pair of black sunglasses that they make a film together. This film turns out to be a portrait of two artists – an older master of cinema and a younger promising photographer – who travel around the small towns in France in a little truck and take pictures of the locals, particularly their faces at each stop. Then, they print out large-scale photos on the spot, which are then pasted onto public structures in every corner of the villages where the locals live. After viewing the enlarged images of their faces exhibited in the villages transformed into giant exhibition spaces, people start to distance themselves from these places, look at them from different perspectives, and eventually find their lives meaningful and worth-living, deeply moved by the fact that they are encountering a piece of art larger than life.
Agnès VARDA, one of the last figures of the French Nouvelle Vague, wants to hold on to her fading memories that are as fuzzy as her vision. Photography is the best art form to freeze and capture passing moments while human faces underpin our first impressions at the moments of encounter. Therefore, close-up photos can be a priceless gift, an attempt to remember and cherish these moments of encounter. VARDA and JR set out on a journey to a wharf, a factory, and a bunker on the beach as well as to an abandoned coal-mining town and a desolate house where no one lives while taking pictures of people they bump into including a postman who delivers letters to their truck. The photographic images of unknown people and their forgotten spaces work as a mediator to give faces and voices to them and make them real. Faces, Places is a film made by cinephiles who love creating images; at the same time, a “song of praise” to a master of cinema who loves life as much as she loves cinema. For Jean Luc GODARD who never makes an appearance in his films, the relationship between vision, cinema, image, and face (in this case, life) or between life and cinema is all about disconnection to and animosity against each other; meanwhile, for VARDA, it must have been about friendship that infuses life into each other.
Sunah KIM / Festival Director, Chief Programmer