- Director: Catherine Gund; Daresha Kyi
- Producer: Lina Badenes; Catherine Gund
What a difficult and extraordinary woman...!
Chavela Vargas...the heart-breaking singer of Ranchero...a fierce lover of women and an unapologetic, uncontrollable drunk.
The filmmakers - in her presence - are a little too adoring, too gushy...but, Chavela soon puts them to right...with her coarse, unbridled and unflinching honesty.She worked hard, played harder and broke the hearts of lovers and audiences alike.
And then she disappeared...into drunken domesticity for a dozen years...forgotten and thought dead, she re-emerged...by way of Pedro Almodvar!
Yes, indeed, she mellowed with age...as do many when the give up the booze! But, her voice still crackled with heartbreak. The mere fact that her longevity gave her the legacy she dreamed of, demanded, expected (and was mostly denied)...is testament to her iron will.
Thankfully, the film features some damn fine performances of the woman herself...singing about love and loss, subjects she was oh-so well-versed in...as a performer, even in old age...she was hypnotic!
In her day, she defiantly defied conformity and inspired many, many women...this film will continue that inspiration. She was - without doubt - a true original.
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 Lana Turner 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The unpublished material in this film, as well as the interviews with Chavela herself and her contemporaries, colleagues and partners have resulted in an affectionate portrait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.