“Chavela” is a love letter to one of the most remarkable Latina voice of the 20th Century: Chavela Vargas. A trailblazer, Chavela fought to end stereotypes by disrupting the status quo. Her soulful voice, characterized by pain and sorrow, and her defiant signature appearance of pants and poncho, at a time when the music industry revered women femininity, have become an emblem of her life long fight for equality and freedom. She lived by the philosophy that “Human beings love, and that is all that matters. Don’t ask who and why. Just let it be. That’s the beauty of life” and urged others to “be courageous, face challenges and don’t be ashamed of anything”. Although she didn’t publicly come out until she was 81 years old, throughout her life she stayed true to herself claiming that “I don’t want to contradict the composer or myself. I am not going to betray myself” and presented herself in a way that left little ambiguity.
The documentary takes us on a journey of her life from her affection deprived childhood in Costa Rica, her cabaret days in Mexico where she became recognized as a poignant rancher singer, her rendezvous with Hollywood and Mexican elite, to her spiral down due to alcohol, and her surprising comeback. This film is composed of raw footage of Chavela’s younger years, old photographs, concert footage, interview of friends and insightful never-before-seen interviews director Catherine Gund had filmed in 1992 when Chavela made her comeback after a 12-year hiatus. Although not all the footage and timestamps flow seamlessly throughout the film, this well-balance and inspiring documentary it’s packed with insightful and beautiful footage.
With “Chavela” director Gund and Daresha Kyi pay homage to the life of a women who amidst adversity was able to stay true to herself and reclaim her place as one of the most inspiring and heartfelt Spanish speaking singers of all time. It will not only will introduce Chavela to new audiences, but will continue to inspire generations to come. Beyond inspiring the LGBTQ community, it delivers a universal message of empowerment and highlights the importance and beauty of leading an authentic life.
“Chavela” is a documentary that aims to share the incredible story of a trailblazing ranchera singer Chavela Vargas. This film will give her fans an upclose and personal account of Chavela’s remarkable life and introduce the music legend to new generations. Through never-before-seen footage and interviews with the singer, this documentary captures how the singer defied the status quo and by doing so became a symbol of women empowerment and an icon for LGBTQ community. Chavela was ahead of her time and audiences will be inspired by her unwavering strength and determination to lead an authentic life.
These are the two things the director Daresha Kyi hopes all audience take away from this film:
- “It is never too late to realize your dreams!”
“Chavela made her comeback in 1991 when she was 71 years old, and went on for another 22 years. She came back from the brink of destruction, so it’s never too late, no matter how bad it is. You can recover and you can comeback.”
- It’s your job to share your gifts! To do that you have lead an authentic life and be true to yourself!
Chavela showed us what an authentic life looks like and what it is like to be true to yourself. She candidly shared that although it may be hard and challenging that you will survive, thrive and you will be so glad you were true to yourself. There is only one you with all the gift and talents you were meant to live. And you will not get to live them if you are not being true to yourself. So, if you come here with a purpose, gift and talents, it’s your job to share them. And how do you do that? By being authentic and being true!
Directors: Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi
Running Time: 1 hr and 33 min
Ensemble: Chavela, Elena Benarroch, Pedro Alamodovar, Miguel Bose, Liliana Felipe, Laura Garcia-Lorca
Language: Spanish with English Subtitles
Genre: Documentary, Biography
Opening: Oct 13th 2017 Nationwide (Oct 6th in Select Theaters in LA)