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Directed by Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
90 min | 2017 | USA/Mexico/Spain | Not Rated
Presented in English and Spanish with English subtitles.
““Have you heard of Chavela Vargas?” “Oh, we have failed you,” reply a group of Latinx friends.
Chavela gives a voice to the iconic Mexican singer in her own words and those of the people who knew her best. The film creates an engrossing portrait of the sensual, scandalous songstress. She was always true to herself, even when it seemed she was her own worst enemy. Using footage of her on- and offstage just after her unexpected comeback at the age of 72, the documentary captures the fervor of an individual who could only live genuinely. The testimonies of those who loved and at times despised her intertwine to capture the complexity of an individual unwilling to retreat into a normal life.
Not officially “out” until the start of the new millennium at 81, Chavela never hesitated to express herself as an entertainer by wearing what she wanted, loving the people she wanted, and crafting songs of true expression. The intensity of her live performances makes you believe in the passion of this individual until you forget you are watching a film; instead, you’re transported to standing onstage, looking on as a remarkable performer’s heart unfolds.
— Jace Burbidge
Winner: 2nd Place Best Documentary–2017 Berlin International Film Festival; Official Selection: 2017 Hot Docs