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Chavela (2017)

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The life of pioneering singer Chavela Vargas, from her birth in Costa Rica in 1919 to her death in Mexico in 2012.


Catherine Gund (co-director), Daresha Kyi (co-director)
5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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When a language dies, a unique vision of the world is lost forever.

Director: Ernesto Contreras
Stars: Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, José Manuel Poncelis, Eligio Meléndez


Credited cast:
Pedro Almodóvar ... Himself
Elena Benarroch Elena Benarroch ... Herself
Miguel Bosé ... Himself
Liliana Felipe Liliana Felipe ... Herself
Laura García Lorca Laura García Lorca ... Herself (as Laura García-Lorca)
Mariana Gyalui Mariana Gyalui ... Herself
Jose Alfredo Jimenez Jr. Jose Alfredo Jimenez Jr. ... Himself
Patria Jiménez Flores Patria Jiménez Flores ... Herself
Eugenia León Eugenia León ... Herself
Tania Libertad Tania Libertad ... Herself
Martirio Martirio ... Herself
Diana Ortega Diana Ortega ... Herself
Tlany Ortega Tlany Ortega ... Herself
Alicia Elena Pérez Duarte Alicia Elena Pérez Duarte ... Herself
Jesusa Rodríguez Jesusa Rodríguez ... Herself


Through its lyrical structure, Chavela will take viewers on an evocative, thought-provoking journey through the iconoclastic life of game-changing artist Chavela Vargas. Centered around never before-seen interview footage of Chavela shot 20 years before her death in 2012, and guided by the stories in Chavela's songs, and the myths and tales others have told about her - as well as those she spread about herself - the film weaves an arresting portrait of a woman who dared to dress, speak, sing, and dream her unique life into being. Written by Aubin Pictures

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Trailblazer. Rebel. Icon.


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Official site


Mexico | Spain | USA


English | Spanish

Release Date:

4 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor Puro y Duro: Love Hard & Pure See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,453, 8 October 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$148,666, 28 January 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Aubin Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



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User Reviews

the great comeback
2 February 2018 | by dromascaSee all my reviews

Born in Costa Rica and having lived most of her life in Mexico, singer Chavela Vargas was a pioneer on many respects. Born in 1919, she became famous in the 1950s but her career was interrupted and she was forgotten two decades later to the point that many people believed her to be dead. Her comeback around the age of 70 was one of the most remarkable in the history of music, so was her presence in the public awareness, both for her music and for attitude. The film Chavela co-directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi with the participation of Pedro Almodóvar is part of a spectacular comeback of an artist whose life is still surrounded by mysteries six years after her death.

Chavela Vargas was a very non-conventional woman and artist who built her career and lived much of her life in a conservative country. She sang the music of the Mexican cowboys ('rancheras') and dressed unconventionally. It was only very late in her life and career that she could go public as a lesbian, but her sexual orientation as well as the alcohol addiction were the principal causes of her fall of the grace of the public at the peak of her career, despite her success and popularity. Audiences simply believed that she is no longer alive, but to everybody's surprise (including probably her own) she had the courage and power to make one of the most sensational comebacks in the history of music, enjoying again success, and becoming an international celebrity. She was older than 80 years when she made her debut in places like Carnegie Hall or Olympia, and her music was a source of inspiration for several films of Pedro Almodóvar.

The documentary spends quite little time dealing with her early career, focusing or her fall and comeback. It is based mostly on her own interviews and on testimonies from her friends and colleagues. There is a lot of material about her private life, less about her music. As in many musical documentaries music presented on screen (with very appropriate English translation of the lyrics) speaks best about her art, but for me, knowing close to nothing about Mexican or Latin American music of the 20th century, I found that there is too little material or none about her musical innovations and why she was different and better than most of the other musicians of her generation. It's more a documentary about an exceptional life than about an exceptional musician.

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