About Varda Bar-Kar

Award-winning director Varda Bar-Kar is of Jewish descent born in England, to a South African mother and a Romanian father. She had traveled the world and lived in Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States by the time she was ten years old.  Her international upbringing provides her with a global perspective and a deep appreciation and love for diverse peoples and cultures.  She is an “artivist” filmmaker focusing her creative lens on meaningful stories exploring the breadth and diversity of the human condition. She faces society’s challenges with an uplifting approach that speaks to possibility.

Varda transitioned into directing after working as a Script Supervisor for maverick feature directors like Jim Jarmusch, Wayne Wang, and Carroll Ballard.  She developed her directing voice by creating scripted short films, including the festival-winning Window starring Louis Gossett, Jr.  The film screened at Cannes and aired across the United States on local affiliate stations in honor of Black History Month. 

Varda’s music documentary feature Big Voice (Amazon Prime, Pluto TV, Tubi) which she produced and directed received the “Best Premiere Documentary” award at the Heartland Film Festival, “Best Feature Documentary” at NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, and “Best Family Documentary” at the South Dakota Film Festival. Big Voice screened at the United States Capitol followed by a discussion advocating for Arts Education. Big Voice was picked up by Netflix and broadcast on PBS winning a Bronze Telly Award.  Her documentary A Million Spokes premiered on the Documentary Channel). This challenging production spanning the state of Iowa required four unique self-self contained camera units each following a select group of Ragbrai cyclists riding across the Hawkeye State in the world’s largest, longest, oldest, bike tour.

At the heart of Varda’s boundless music documentary Fandango at the Wall (Sony Music/HBO/HBO Max/MAX) beats Fandango Fronterizo–a community convergence of song and dance in the son jarocho tradition. 

The film follows Maestro Arturo O’Farrill to Veracruz where he meets the masters of this 300-year-old tradition and joins them for the transformational border fandango with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and guest artists Regina Carter, Antonio Sánchez, the Villalobos Brothers, Rahim AlHaj among othersExecutive Produced by Kabir Sehgal, Carlos Santana, Quincy Jones, and Andrew Young, and supported by the Ford Foundation, Fandango at the Wall spawned the Grammy award-winning album “Fandango at the Wall in New York”.

Varda directed for the hit FOX show 9-1-1. Her episode entitled Buck, Actually and inspired by Love, Actually explores the complexity of love and stars Angela Bassett, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Peter Krause.  Varda recently served as a Consulting Producer on the Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, and is currently directing a new music documentary about the creative genius and unstoppable artistic spirit of multi-Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter Janis Ian. The Wild Rose Pictures production, executive produced by Pierre Hauser and produced by Varda Bar-Kar, Brooke Wentz, and Alessandra Pasquino, features Janis Ian,  Lily Tomlin, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Paxton, Jean Smart, Laurie Metcalf among others, as well as Janis Ian’s friends and key collaborators. The project is being supported by Jewish Story Partners, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and The Jewish Film Institute. 

Varda is a Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Director Mentee, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Resident, a Jewish Film Institute Resident, a NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Board Member, and a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the International Documentary Association (IDA), and Film Fatale.

During breaks from her filmmaking, Varda enjoys biking, hiking, making art, reading, and exploring the world with her husband Patrick Scott Bennett and their grown daughters, Paloma and Raven.