There has always been something striking about Agnès Varda. The celebrated filmmaker maintains a sense of playfulness, even when she’s exploring dead- serious political issues. It’s an approach that allows her to present whimsical moments amid confronting situations. Varda herself describes her work as cinécriture (ciné-writing).

A new retrospective at ACMI, Joyous Curiosity: The Cinema of Agnès Varda, offers audiences the opportunity to be swept into the Greek-French film director’s universe, screening more than half a decade of her work. The season incorporates four chapters which encapsulate the different stages of her career.

“Amour” presents a group of love stories that examine the pleasure and pain of relationships; “Nouveau Femmes” centres on Varda’s feminism and explores the status of women in society; “Politique AKA The Personal is Political” includes Varda’s self-funded debut, La Point Courte, which is considered the first film of the nouvelle vague. The last chapter, “California Dreaming”, screens films that reflect the time Varda spent in LA during the ‘60s and ‘80s when she found America full of vibrance, but felt stifled in France.

Throughout the season, ACMI will present Varda’s entire collection, with highlights including Jane B. Par Agnes V.,Vagabond and the much-loved Gleaners and I. There will even be a live Q&A with Varda herself, hosted by film critic Phillipa Hawker after a screening of Cleo from 5 to 7 on Thursday June 19.

The beauty of this cinematic showcase is that together with honouring Varda’s impressive body of work, it provides a sense of her life and what inspired the making of each film. One suspects this is exactly the way Varda would want it.

Joyous Curiosity: The Cinema of Agnès Varda screens at ACMI from Thursday June 19 to Sunday July 13 2014. For information on tickets and screenings, visit acmi.net.au/film.