Born 1928 in Brussels, Belgium
Based in Paris, France
Filmmaker, photographer. Fled to France during World War II and went on to work at the Théâtre National Populaire as a photographer. Began to make short films while traveling around the world engaging in reportage. Released in 1954, her first feature film, La Pointe Courte, was later praised as a pioneering work of the French New Wave. She went on to release a series of vibrant works on topical themes that placed an emphasis on such human traits as emotion and empathy.
As a photographer she travelled to China in 1957 during the Mao Zedong era and to revolutionary Cuba in 1962 immediately after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the latter trip resulting in the release of Salut les Cubains (Hi There, Cubans), a photomontage made up of 1800 black-and-white still photos Varda shot while in the country. While introducing with a humorous touch through the narration of Varda and Michel Piccoli the culture, fashion and customs of Cuba as well as its revolutionary heroes and history (including the revolution), it also conveys of the hope and excitement of the young socialist nation enlivened by its success. Towards the end, a young Sara Gómez, who served as Varna’s assistant director and went on to become Cuba’s first woman film director, dances the cha-cha-cha.