Providence's Alternative Source!


The compensation of what remains behind is the subject of septuagenarian French filmmaker Agnès Varda's petite masterpiece of found and fondly preserved art. The "grandmother of the French New Wave" (her 1961 film Cléo from 5 to 7 is one of that movement's underrated classics) explores in this free-associative documentary the world of the gleaners, those permitted by French law to pick up the remnants in a harvested field after the landowners have taken their fill. Her style, of course, is also a kind of gleaning: bits and pieces of images taken by her prized digital camera of rural and urban indigents and artists who find subsistence and inspiration in what the rest of society has abandoned. There are the homeless who take advantage of the perfectly good vegetables tossed away because they are not cosmetically acceptable for the produce department; there are the young rebels who defy the law by rummaging through dumpsters, and the collage artist who transforms trash into haunting tableaux. And there is Varda herself, who includes among her treasures saved from oblivion a potato shaped like a heart and a video image of her own age-ravaged hand. A heartwarming look at the need to salvage and redeem and a witty and eloquent meditation on mortality and rebirth, The Gleaners & I is a tribute to the fertility of women's cinema. At the Cable Car.

By Peter Keough

Issue Date: November 30 - December 6, 2001