The Brattle Selects: The Gleaners and I

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2000 • dir Agnes Varda • 82 min

The first booking on the first calendar that the Brattle Film Foundation published after taking over operations at The Brattle was, as previously mentioned, The Mystery of Picasso but that same calendar concluded with what remains one of our favorite premieres to this day – Agnes Varda’s THE GLEANERS & I.

Agnès Varda’s extraordinary late-career renaissance began with this wonderfully idiosyncratic, self-reflexive documentary in which the ever-curious French cinema icon explores the little-known world of modern-day gleaners: those living on the margins who survive by foraging for that which society throws away. Embracing the intimacy and freedom of digital filmmaking, Varda posits herself as a kind of gleaner of images and ideas, one whose generous, expansive vision makes room for ruminations on everything from aging to the birth of cinema to the beauty of heart-shaped potatoes. By turns playful, philosophical, and subtly political, THE GLEANERS & I is a warmly human reflection on the contradictions of our consumerist world from an artist who, like her subjects, finds unexpected richness where few think to look.

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