Director: Catherine Gund,Daresha Kyi
An adoring, insightful portrait of the musical star who sang of darkness while lighting up lives: legendary Mexican singer and Pedro Almodóvar muse, Chavela Vargas.
Her songs have echoed across the soundtracks of Almodóvar’s Kika, Live Flesh and Julieta (MIFF 2016); but that’s just one of Chavela Vargas’ many claims to fame. She transformed Mexico’s music scene – daring to sing traditionally male-crooned rancheras, perform in ponchos and destroy senorita stereotypes – and became both a national rebel and a queer icon in the process.
After meeting Vargas in 1992, documentarian Catherine Gund unearths the never-before-seen recordings of their chats to craft a chronicle of a game-changing treasure. Interwoven with archival footage and contemporary interviews, Chavela explores everything from her hard-drinking lifestyle and her intense affair with Frida Kahlo to her late career resurgence. But more than that, it captures the inimitable spirit of a woman and an artist who refused to conform to anyone’s norms.
'A vivid portrayal of an artistic, social and sexual rebel whose difficult but finally triumphant life finally proved that there sometimes really are second acts in showbiz.' – Screen Daily