A woman director working in black and white on a limited budget, a capricious main character with a looming fate, a city that is playground and character at once, a summer’s day full of promise, distraction, and chance encounters, a cast of strangers whose snippets of overheard conversation work themselves seamlessly into the texture of the film, and a fresh New Wave approach to life and art — it’s thrilling to confirm how many similarities Agnès Varda’s celebrated Cleo from 5 to 7 shares with May Spils’ overlooked classic Zur Sache, Schätzchen.

Cleo is now being reissued as part of a shiny new Varda box set from Criterion. May Spils’ films are, so far, unavailable in the US. Zur Sache, Schätzchen is one of my all-time favorites, and I have translated and created English subtitles for the film in hopes of a stateside DVD release. There have been promising stirrings lately so keep your fingers crossed for Zur Sache.

Cléo de 5 à 7. Agnès Varda, 1961. *****

The trailer: