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HD   NR Closed Captioning

Catherine Gund & Daresha Kyi

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About the Movie

CHAVELA is the 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. Just as influential were her cultural contributions; Chavela was a bold, rebellious, sexual pioneer who was known for having many female lovers at a time when being out in Mexico was dangerous.Chavela centers around a 1991 interview--the singer's first public appearance after 15 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.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 26
  • Fresh: 24
  • Rotten: 2
  • Average Rating: 7.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Loaded with concert footage, interviews with friends, and terrific photos, this well-balanced documentary directed by Gund and Daresha Kyi celebrates the woman and the legend, and if the stock archival material doesn't always fit, few will mind. – Jay Weissberg, Variety, Feb 12, 2017

Fresh: Throughout Chavela, onscreen translations of lyrics accompany concert clips. A literal understanding of the songs is hardly necessary, though. The emotion in the performance says everything we need to know. – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times, Oct 5, 2017

Fresh: The core material is augmented with a wealth of archive footage and photographs, as well as extensive interviews with music aficionados, associates, friends, lovers and admirers. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter, Feb 12, 2017

Fresh: The film marvels with her but doesn't have much of an answer. But we do get performances. We hear her on record, from in her youth and in cabaret and concert appearances from late in her life. Every note has majesty. – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice, Oct 5, 2017

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Powerful emotive performances

Her voice and performance linked with the subject of love, loss and tragedy focussed on women is powerfull to watch. From the first note she sings to the last she tears out emotions and it's difficult not to get moved immediatly. She sang all her life and right up to the end and people just gulped when she sang those songs.

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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2017

Customer Ratings

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