You are forgiven for possibly never having heard of Grammy-winning Mexican icon Chavela Vargas, but after seeing this glorious tribute you will never forget her. This is the kind of film our festival was born to showcase. An all-female crew scrutinizes the astonishing life of a cultural phenomenon. Chavela ran away from Costa Rica when she was just 14, but ended up being one of the most famous Latin artists of the century. She lived to narrate much of the documentary here, voicing a lucid, wry commentary on the challenges of becoming a lesbian superstar—in other words, being herself. No wonder the great passionate artist Frieda Kahlo was besotted with her. Indeed, among many revelations are the never seen before images of their relationship, well worth the ticket alone. Like Kahlo, Chavela was a magnet for both men and women, but ultimately she is a force of nature itself, uncannily persistent despite a judgemental society. Watch as Spanish director Pedro Almódavar talks of her power. Listen to the songs that made Chavela a household name. There’s a lot to absorb here in this new and exciting profile of a woman and the folk music she helped transform: indeed, you can go back to the ranchera again.
Directors: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
Producers: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi, Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin
Runtime: 90 mins