Music Box Films has announced the U.S. theatrical release of the Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s documentary film Chavela, an intimate portrait of the legendary Mexican lesbian chanteuse Chavela Vargas, opening on Wednesday, October 4 at Film Forum in New York City, followed by other cities across the U.S.
In The Hollywood Reporter’s review, David Rooney calls Chavela Vargas (1919 – 2012) “a trailblazing free spirit whose appetite for tequila and women was as legendary as her soul-stirring vocals… A hard-drinking rebel who shredded the prevailing stereotype of the fem and flirty, hip-swinging señorita in Mexican popular music, the singer commands the stage in passionate performances throughout Chavela, owning a trademark androgynous look…that made her a queer icon long before she openly defined herself as a lesbian at age 81… singing deeply felt songs of pain, solitude and lost love in a voice both rough and tender.”
Chavela explores the singer’s dynamic life and career using powerful, plentiful live performance footage and a fascinating, reflective conversation between the artist and a group of lesbian admirers (filmed by Gund in 1991). The film also features commentary by Pedro Almodóvar, who used Chavela’s music in his films (Kika, The Flower of My Secret, Julieta) and introduced her to international concert audiences in the 1990s, when, as her manager notes, she tried as hard as she could to die on stage.
The film, winner of the Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Documentary Audience Award at Outfest 2017, will have a two-week engagement, October 4 – 17, at Film Forum.