Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Featureat this year’s 90th Oscars Academy Awards, Winner of the L’OEil d'Or at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017, and winner of the "Most Popular International Documentary" Award at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival: Visages Villages, or Faces Places, is more than a documentary, and more than a film.
It is a journey through the French countryside; a sensorial journey, with a versatile destination.
It is an injection of energy spread out in ninety minutes filled with the power emotions, imagination, and above all human interaction and connection.
“We didn’t meet on the road; we didn’t meet at a bus stop; we didn't meet at a bakery; we didn't meet on a dance hall…”
The invisible thread that led to this unprecedented meeting between 34-year-old artist JR, and the soon to be 90-year-old mother of the Nouvelle Vague, and the first female director to receive an Oscar for hercareer, Agnès Varda, rules out the fifty-five years age gap between them and gives rise to an unbeatable chemistry.
“With JR I discovered the beauty of being able to grow old while continuing to enjoy myself…”
This buddy road movie depicts the story of a friendship between JR and Agnès. A bond nurtured by the jokes, surprises, laughter, warmth, admiration, empathy, lightness, playfulness and complementary differences between them.
Their connection extends to the people that participate in the film and equally “contaminates” the audience that watches it.
Two different people, from two different walks of life and with two different perceptions, but with a principal aspect in common: Their mutual passion and curiosity for Images, and, more precisely, their interest infinding new faces to “glorify”.
JR’s Inside Out Project, values people by photographing them, enlarging the shots and gluing their large-scale images on the walls; Agnès values them by listening to them and savoring the details of their stories; Their corresponding spirits and skills result in sharing a gift with those they meet, that never stops giving.
JR’s photographic magic van becomes the ideal host of their purpose: The Enlargement Of The Every day.
“JR. knows what I love the most: Photograph faces I meet so that they don’t disappear into the holes of my memory”…
An invitation into this wonder van to pose and have your photograph taken, printed and augmented into black-and-white images that unroll from a slot in the side of the truck, ranging from individual portraits, to group shots or replica of old photographs, to be then pasted on structures and objects such as walls, barns, houses, store fronts, shipping containers, trucks, trains.
Unimaginable places become the perfect stage for these portraits of life.
Anonymous faces immersed in their habitat are given center stage, enhanced through the colossal photos, highlighting their importance, and nearly presenting them as the celebrities of their own reality.
Agnès Varda and JR. reveal the beauty in the story of each person; Every person is a whole universe and represents a piece of the society.
The individual interlinked with the collective and vice versa.
The peasant, the worker, the farmer, the postman, the wife, the mother, the passer-by, and so on, are all precious pieces of a puzzle mirroring the image of a silent and profound France, beyond the status quo, the industriousness and the city chaos. An ordinary world rejoiced.
Visages Villages suggests an antidote to our times; In a digital and digitalized era where technology has become the second language of communication, when time is money, money is time, frenetic rhythms of living have become the norm, the use of our time is punctuated down to the smallest detail, and difficult times are part of our daily reality, Agnès Varda and JR set a special rhythm to this film - the documentary required eighteen months for its completion - choosing to enjoy the luxury of taking the time and following the flow of time.
Visages Villages feels the pulse of our times and comes as a remedy to the ugliness; an alleviation that finds home in a fair exchange that confronts a biased reality.
An intimate, authentic, spontaneous, pleasant and “democratic” pursuit of the beauty in simplicity, shifting attention on our basic needs, reminding us to laugh, engage, smile, connect, share, embrace our differences and Live Life.
The photographic and the cinematic language, along with the words of the starring characters, all come together to communicate, translate and preserve the glory of the everyday.
Visages Villages it’s an actual time collage: The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, tie in an authentic, spontaneous, lively and energetic narration.
Inevitably nostalgia comes in “waving hello to flashes from the past”: places, encounters and stories that arouse emotions and evoke memoirs.
Thanks to this atypical couple and their nomadic journey, Visages Villages is definitely a true documentary made by two “sociologists” with great energy, painting a unique cross-generational portrait of life.
Agnès Varda and JR manage to create a remarkable connection on a social level using cinema as the platform to convey a democratic reality, through a true, honest, caring, original and precise portrayal of its subjects.
A rejuvenating and wunderkind addition to the cinematic repertoire that deserves to be savored by the widest audience possible.
“Your feet and your eyes tell a story; this train will go to many places to which you will never go …”
“Thanks JR for this beautiful trip; I propose another. Close your eyes”
Words / Content Editor: Annie Markitanis
©All Images Are Subject To Copyright, Visages, Villages, 2017