Meet the first female director to get an honorary Oscar

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Agnes Varda is one of Europe's most acclaimed film-makers

Belgian film-maker Agnes Varda is to become the first female director to be awarded an honorary Oscar.

Varda, 89, was one of the key figures in the French New Wave in the 1960s, making films like Cleo from 5 to 7, Le Bonheur and The Creatures.

She'll be one of four people to get honorary Oscars this year as the organisers aim to reflect diversity.

Writer-director Charles Burnett, actor Donald Sutherland and cinematographer Owen Roizman are the other recipients.

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Famously, only one woman has ever won a competitive Oscar for directing - Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010.

Sixteen directors have received honorary Oscars in the past, according to the Academy Awards database - all men.

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Varda (left) with actress Corinne Marchand at the 1962 Venice Film Festival

Varda has been called the mother of the French New Wave, according to The Academy, and has continued making acclaimed films throughout her career.

Vagabond from 1985, 1988's Kung-Fu Master, 1995's One Hundred and One Nights and the autobiographical The Beaches of Agnes from 2008 were all hits on the festival circuit.

She has never been nominated for a competitive Oscar - but may get a nomination to go with her honorary Oscar next year.

She is thought to be a possible contender for the best documentary Oscar, for Faces Places, which was named best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

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Left-right: Charles Burnett, Donald Sutherland and Owen Roizman

Among this year's other honorary Oscar recipients, the Academy said Charles Burnett - who directed The Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger - has been praised for his "portrayal of the African-American experience".

Donald Sutherland is known for roles in films like The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, Ordinary People and The Hunger Games franchise.

And Owen Roizman has already had five competitive Oscar nominations for his work on The French Connection, The Exorcist, Network, Tootsie and Wyatt Earp.

The quartet will receive their statuettes at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards on 11 November.

Academy president John Bailey said: "This year's Governors Awards reflect the breadth of international, independent and mainstream film-making, and are tributes to four great artists whose work embodies the diversity of our shared humanity."

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