Agnès Varda/France/2000/Cert PG/82m
In 1857 French artist Millet painted ‘The Gleaners’, depicting three peasant women collecting stray wheat, missed after the harvest. ‘Gleaning’ or picking up and using the leftovers from the field has been part of life for rural workers for centuries. In this film Varda seeks out the gleaners of today, as she travels across France with her hand-held camera talking to landowners, farmers and to the gleaners.
Some farmers are happy for this ancient tradition to continue, others would rather spoil left-over fruit than encourage gleaners onto their land. Varda gleans with a group who are gathering kilos of heart-shaped potatoes, dumped as waste. She joins urban gleaners who pick through the streets and gutters for spoils and meets the makers and artisans who turn discarded trash into works of art.
Varda’s film is a warm, intimate and personal portrait of 21st century gleaning which quietly reveals the reality of a society where ‘plenty’ is squandered and where many are without.