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Year: 2017 (90th) Academy Awards
Category: Honorary Award
Winner: To Agnès Varda, whose compassion and curiosity inform a uniquely personal cinema.
Presenter: Kimberly Peirce, Kate Amend, Jessica Chastain, Angelina Jolie
Date & Venue: November 13, 2017; The Governors Awards (Ray Dolby Ballroom, Hollywood & Highland Center)
I'm slightly shy and delighted to hear all these beautiful words about me. Yes, it makes me feel good I have to say. And I hear them in the middle of Oscarland. I want to thank the four bright, beautiful and intelligent women who spoke. And I have a little question. Are there no men in this room who love me to speak up?
Home in France, when we want to watch the Oscar ceremony we have to set up our alarm clock at 4 a.m. And we want to see the fashion show, the room full of excited people, not to speak about the anxious actors and artists, because it's a fierce competition. What's happening today has nothing to do; it's another kind. There is no money at stake and no competition. So the Governors gave me this award. It just, I took it as recognition of my body of work over the more than sixty years. And it, how you say, enlight, it gives light on me as well as French cinema. And I'm happy that some of the leading figures of France came to be with me and enjoy the event, the evening. So I want to welcome them. Frédérique Bredin is the president of Centre National du Cinéma, that supports film and helps young filmmakers. Then we have Serge Toubiana, who is the president of UniFrance Film, supporting films and helping young directors and sending the knowledge of French cinema abroad. And then we have the délégué général of the Cannes Film Festival, the famous Thierry Frémaux.
I'm also surrounded and protected by my family. I have my beautiful children. Mathieu Demy, who is actor and filmmaker. Rosalie Varda-Demy, who recently produced with passion and energy the film "Faces Places" that I co-directed with JR. JR is here with us. And then cherries on the cake, two of my grandchildren are here. Valentin Vignet, who is a DP, and after studying at AFI. Yes. And my little Constantin Demy, who is still at school here in Los Angeles. How could I forget to name and speak about Jacques Demy, my dear Jacques who was here in 1965 nominated for "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg".
Back to the topic. I have been under loved and praise I would say because I try to work to get the essence of cinema, finding different structure for each film. "La Pointe Courte", double narration. "Cléo from 5 to 7", real time. "Vagabond", thirteen continuous and un-continuous traveling shots. "Jane B.", each portrait is a puzzle with missing pieces. So, I also try to tell stories with actors and non-actors, and went back to the school of modesty, which is documentaries, such as "The Gleaners and I." But I have to say I had a hard time finding money. I never, my film never made money and I'm not bankable. Nevertheless, if not money, I got many awards. And then also honorary awards, such as Cannes Palme d'Or, and later, because I became older and older without losing my desire and need to work and create, I started to get lifetime achievement awards. But here in the mecca of cinema, Hollywood, I received the best one, the Governors Award. Thank you.
And then, I have to say something else. You know, the other day I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about my speech. I got nervous, started to move my legs and my arms in the bed, moving a lot. And after a while, for some reason, I start to forget the weight of my body on the mattress. I felt I was dancing. Tonight I have almost the same feeling. It is a big event, very serious, has been organized to celebrate the honorees. We have a room here full of cinema talents. We had two stars, Angelina and Jessica, like my feminist guardian angels. And it was a big event, very serious, full of meaning and weight. But I feel that between weight and lightness, I choose lightness. And I feel I'm dancing, the dance of cinema. [She then dances at the side of the podium with presenter Angelina Jolie.]
© Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences[Note: All winners are present except where noted; NOT all winners may have spoken.]