Mexico/USA, 2018
Director: Catherine Gund & Daresha Kyi

English and Spanish with English subtitles | 93 min
Spotlight on Costa Rica| International Hits

Preceded by 5:03 AM
Friday, August 23 | 3 PM | Cinematheque

Chavela is a captivating look at the unconventional life of beloved performer Chavela Vargas, whose passionate renditions of Mexican popular music and triumphant return to the stage late in life brought her international fame. Born in Costa Rica in 1919, Chavela Vargas ran away to Mexico City as a teenager to sing in the streets. By the 1950s, she became a household name in her adopted country, delivering her performances with a raw passion and unique voice. Chavela centers around a 1991 interview—the singer’s first public appearance after 12 hard years lost to alcoholism and heartbreak. In the final years of her life, Chavela openly comes out as a lesbian and rises into her momentous third act, becoming a muse to filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, earning a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and selling out performances at prestigious concert halls around the world.

Chavela lleva a los espectadores a un evocador y provocativo viaje a través de la vida de la iconoclasta y cambiante artista Chavela Vargas. En 1991, a los 71 años, Chavela acaba de regresar al escenario tras 12 años difíciles perdidos por el alcoholismo y una ruptura dolorosa con el amor de su vida. Catherine Gund entrevista a la artista en México, su tierra adoptiva, justo antes de que ella se vaya a España, donde resurgirá como un fénix de sus cenizas. Esta única entrevista sirve como la columna vertebral que atraviesa a Chavela, que explora su fascinante vida desde su nacimiento en Costa Rica hasta su eterna presencia en la tierra en forma de canciones de amor apasionadas que la gente nunca olvidará. —FILMIN

A justifiably laudatory love letter to a woman whose voice drew forth a song’s every emotion, and whose life as a trouser-wearing lesbian celebrity became an inspiration throughout the Spanish-speaking world. —Jay Weissberg, Variety

Audience Award, Inside Out LGBT Film Festival Toronto, 2017
Audience Award, L.A. Outfest, 2017 
Best Documentary Feature, L.A. Outfest, 2017

Filmography: Dispatches from Cleveland (2017), What’s On Your Plate? (2009)