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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This week at SFC: Neil Young Live at Massey Hall and Vagabond

Our screenings are free and all are welcome.

Thursday September 6th

First film starts at 7:30pm. Feature starts at 8:15 pm.

Some of you will remember Agnes Varda's great auto portrait documentary travelouge, The Gleaners And I, one of SFC's very early screenings.  We are pleased to be screening Vagabond, which many rate as her finest film. First up, however, is a wonderful musical treat.

Neil Young Live at Massey Hall, Toronto 1971 (solo aucoustic)

Neil Young performs many of his now classic songs from the album Harvest, for the first time in front of a live audience. The film is interspersed with home super 8 footage. A truly atmospheric film and performance by the then 24 year old Young.  

Vagabond (Agnes Varda/France/1985/105')

The French title for Vagabond is Sans Toit Ni Loi, which could be translated as Without Roof or Law.

Sandrine Bonnaire plays Mona, a vagabond found dead from exposure in the opening scene, whose final few months we follow in flashback. Traipsing through the French countryside in winter, Mona skips along from one situation to another, more interested in survival and sustenance than making any kind of permanent connection, resolute in her individuality. But she touches the lives of those around her, from a cultured professor who sees in her a romantic symbol of social freedom to a farming couple who offers her their way of life with a plot of land to a widow whose stiffness is mellowed by her directness.

Yet she remains enigmatic as everyone projects their own fantasies on the alienated figure who meets every obstacle with a retreat to the road. Agnes Varda's chilly view weaves in commentaries and direct address of the bystanders and bit players whose lives are touched by Mona, but they ultimately reveal more about the speaker than the drifter. By the end of the film we don't know much more about her beyond her steely immutability and disconnection, and Varda is resolute in her no-apologies, no-excuses portrait. It's an assured film rich in detail with an enigma at the centre.

Like so many of the greatest films, it tells us a very specific story, strong and unadorned, about a very particular person. Because it is so much her own story and does not seem to symbolize anything - because the director has no parables, only information - it is only many days later that we reflect that the story of the vagabond could also be the story of our lives: Although many have shared our time, how many have truly known us?


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