Part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2018
Nominated for the best documentary at the 2018 Oscars, Faces Places is the offspring of the unlikely collaboration between two generations of visual artists: Agnès Varda, the female pioneer of French cinema, aged 89, and J.R, the young photographer, known for his giant murals around the world.
The duo seem to function as opposites here, but they both share a passion for images, people and the places where all interact. Taking “chance as the best assistance”, they decide to improvise a journey through France in JR’s photo booth van to meet communities away from the cities. The spectator follows them, from a coal-mining village to a Dockland site in Le Havre and the southern region. The projects of giant collages generate a variety of sequences with the locals as their portraits are pasted onto different outdoor locations.
Expanding the thread of human connections, the relationship between the artists develops in front of our eyes, and along with delightful confrontations and teasing on their respective cultures and generations, we witness a moving and deep friendship growing.
The beauty of Faces Places lies in the warmth of the people involved in a memory process, as they all seem to build a thread between recollections of the past and poetry of the current reality. Agnès Varda herself, whose eyesight is bad, keeps looking back into past photos to enlighten the present. The end reveals a memorable bitter moment of cinema in front of Jean-Luc Godard’s house.
In the end, Faces Places is a composite object, a multi-layers documentary inspired by people and memory, and a touching exposure of the process of creation and re-creation through visual arts and the power of imagination.