VAF Kinepolis ING
World soundtrack awardsWSA
Archived: Chavela (2017)

director: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi, Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi

composer: Gil Talmi
With: Pedro Almodóvar, Elena Benarroch, Miguel Bosé, a.o.

duration: 90 minutes
Documentary, Historical

Sound and Vision

Singer Chavela Vargas gained a name for herself firstly in Mexico and later worldwide chiefly for her interpretation of traditional rancheras. These songs were mainly composed by men and mostly speak of unfulfilled love for women, world-weariness and loneliness. Chavela performed them with her own unique feeling for rhythm and her distinctively rough and yet vulnerable voice. Her masculine appearance and red poncho made her unmistakable. In Acapulco, which in the 1960s was the playground for the rich and famous in the world of politics and culture, she rubbed shoulders with many celebrities, turning the heads of Frida Kahlo and Ava Gardner with her charm and striking beauty. After a 13-year break from performing brought on as a result of her addiction to alcohol she was rediscovered in the 1990s and enjoyed a glorious comeback as the muse of artists and directors such as Pedro Almodóvar. The unpublished material in this film, as well as the interviews with Chavela herself and her contemporaries, colleagues and partners have resulted in an affectionate portrait of a charismatic and exceptional artist - who was openly lesbian throughout her life until her death in 2012 at the age of 93.

"This tuneful portrait of Chavela Vargas admiringly explores her impact on the world of Mexican music as a lesbian (wait until you hear who she says she woke up with after Elizabeth Taylor's wedding), a charismatic figure and a great artist whose burnished voice 'always sounded as if she'd been torn apart'." (Seattle Times)


director: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi, Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
composer: Gil Talmi
Editor: Carla Gutierrez
Cinematography: Natalia Cuevas, Catherine Gund & Paula Gutiérrez Orio

production company: Aubin Pictures

More info

dialogue: English, Spanish
subtitles: Eng subt.
country: United States of America - Spain - Mexico
year: 2017

Official site


CATHERINE GUND (1965): Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance (1998), Making Grace (2004), What's on Your Plate? (2009), Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (2014), Chavela (2017). DARESHA KYI (1962): The Thinnest Line (1988, short), Land Where My Fathers Died (1991, short), Chavela (2017).

Technical Specs

format: DCP


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