Chavela Receives Grant from Women in Film!

As the legacy of Chavela Vargas continues to move boldly through post-production, we are pleased to announce additional support from Women In Film. They announced Chavela as one of the winners of the 31st annual Film Finishing Fund grant program on Thursday.

The non-profit group, which works to promote equal opportunities for women in the film industry, chose the recipients from more than 250 feature-length narrative films, documentaries and shorts from 22 countries.  - Via SF Gate News

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Pedro Almodovar: Chavela's "husband of this world"

By Yurema Perez-Hinojosa

Photo courtesy of Pedro Almodovar’s website

Photo courtesy of Pedro Almodovar’s website

Earlier this summer, Aubin Pictures had the pleasure to interview internationally recognized Spanish filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and former actor Pedro Almodovar. The 66-year-old director was born and raised in a small village in La Mancha, Spain. He always has a love and admiration for film. He began writing and shooting short films on a Super-8 camera while working at a phone company. Almodovar’s first commercial film was released in 1980, entitled  Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón (1980). He produced several films over the next eight years when he finally received international recognition for his comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). The director has won Oscars for his films “All About my Mother” and “Talk to Her” as well as various other critically-acclaimed awards.

Almodovar has been critical of the US film industry’s sexist and misogynist habits. He says they are “losing an enormous opportunity by not creating good roles for women of all ages.” Almodovar has proposed a theory: generally, actresses have often been used as devices to prove that their male counterparts are not homosexual. Hollywood seldom puts out a film featuring a complex female protagonist. Almodovar also finds Tinseltown is clad in ageism as well. An older actress receiving a leading role (with the exception of Meryl Streep) has become a rare occurrence, and Almodovar is not one to hide his disappointment. “There’s a kind of diabolical sexism” he states in a recent interview, “and I say that it’s diabolical because there’s no one that we can actually accuse of being responsible for this sexism.”

Almodovar had a deep love and respect for Chavela Vargas. He listened to her music throughout his late youth in the '70s. During that time Chavela had fallen out of the music scene due to her drinking addiction. It wasn’t until the '90s that Chavela started performing at nightclubs in Mexico again. Pedro discovered her and almost immediately the two grew extremely fond of each other.  Almodovar helped Chavela Vargas' music regain recognition among larger audiences with his inclusion of her songs in his films. Chavela started performing sold-out concerts across Europe and the Americas.

Photo courtesy of El Pais website 

Photo courtesy of El Pais website 

When Chavela passed away, Pedro was heartbroken. He posted a farewell letter to the songstress on Facebook, calling Chavela a “volcano”. Pedro reminisces on his various memories with Chavela including the moments they spent together fighting their individual addictions (her drinking and his smoking) and working alongside her in prep for concerts. He signs off as “your husband of this world.”
 

Bibliography

Biography.com Editors. "Pedro Almodovar Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/pedro-almod%C3%B3var-21273055>.

Child, Ben. "Pedro Almodóvar Condemns Hollywood's 'diabolical Sexism'"The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 20 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016. <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/20/pedro-almodovar-hollywood-diabolical-sexism-women-cannes>.

Cirilo, Santos. "EL PAÍS." EL PAÍS. N.p., 05 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2012/08/05/actualidad/1344199662_230252.html>.

2012, 5:15PM BST 06 Aug. "Chavela Vargas." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 5 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/music-obituaries/9456735/Chavela-Vargas.html>.


 

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Close Bonds between the Garcia Lorca Family and Chavela Vargas
(From left) Daresha Kyi, Laura Garcia Lorca and Catherine Gund.

(From left) Daresha Kyi, Laura Garcia Lorca and Catherine Gund.

By Yurema Perez-Hinojosa

Laura Garcia Lorca, niece of Federico García Lorca and president of the Federico García Lorca Foundation, sat down with co-producers/directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi to reflect on her relationship with Chavela Vargas.

Laura García Lorca’s  father, Francisco, is Federico's younger brother. Laura is the director of a foundation dedicated to the study and circulation of her uncle’s work. Laura had originally studied Spanish literature at the University of Cambridge. She had trained to become an actress and even performed in a play written by her uncle entitled “The Shoemaker's Prodigious Wife.”

Chavela and Laura Lorca met during one of Chavela’s visits to Spain. Lorca distinctly remembers seeing Chavela perform at the Caracol Hall in 1993. Laura recalls being immediately captivated by Chavela’s passionate performance and intense spirit. They maintained a close relationship despite living oceans apart from each other. Laura often visited Chavela in Mexico. The two bonded over discussing the meaning behind Federico’s work as well as reflecting on the poet’s life.

Photo © Guadalupe Vallina

Photo © Guadalupe Vallina

Chavela had a deep admiration for Federico Garcia Lorca. In 1993, she stayed at the “Residencia de Estudiantes" in Madrid, the same residency where García Lorca once studied. One afternoon a bird perched itself on Chavela's balcony and she sensed it was García Lorca's spirit. Chavela soon begun having lengthy conversations with the poet's ghost. These mystical interactions carried over even when Chavela stayed at her house in Tepoztlan.   

Chavela grew so fond of Lorca she wrote him a tribute album that combined his poetry with her music in 2012 entitled “La Luna Grande”. The album is Chavela's take on interdisciplinary art. It is a beautiful compilation of Lorca’s work infused with Chavela’s musical expertise. 

Bibliography

Lorca, Laura Garcia. "En La Muerte De Chavela Vargas: Una Deuda Con Garc."ABC.es. N.p., 8 June 2012. Web. 21 July 2016. <http://www.abc.es/20120805/cultura-musica/abci-deuda-garcia-lorca-chavela-201208052130.html>

Jonás G., Ricardo, and Rubén Díaz Caviedes. "Laura García-Lorca: «No Somos Partidarios De Remover La Tierra, Pero Sí De Conocer Y Recordar La Historia» - Jot Down Cultural Magazine." Jot Down Cultural Magazine. N.p., 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 July 2016. <http://www.jotdown.es/2013/12/laura-garcia-lorca-no-somos-partidarios-de-remover-la-tierra-pero-si-de-conocer-y-recordar-la-historia/>.

COMUNICADO: CHAVELA VARGAS Y LAURA GARCÍA LORCA EN LA FERIA INTERNACIONAL DEL LIBRO EN EL ZÓCALO, ESTE DOMINGO. N.p., 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 July 2016. <https://www.facebook.com/notes/chavela-vargas-official/comunicado-chavela-vargas-y-laura-garc%C3%ADa-lorca-en-la-feria-internacional-del-lib/229582783768254/>

González, Mariana. "La Pasi." ELMUNDO. N.p., 13 Mar. 2015. Web. <http://www.elmundo.es/cultura/2015/03/13/55032ac6268e3e2e1a8b4575.html>.

 

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Choreographer Cecilia Gómez Brings Chevela's Story to the Stage

By Yurema Perez-Hinojosa

(From left) Daresha Kyi, Cecilia Gomez & Catherine Gund. 

(From left) Daresha Kyi, Cecilia Gomez & Catherine Gund. 

While Aubin Pictures was shooting in Spain, co-producers/directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi had the pleasure of interviewing Spanish Flamenco dancer Cecilia Gómez. In 2013, Cecilia produced "La Cupaima", a Flamenco tribute to Chavela Vargas' life. 

Cecilia studied classical Spanish Flamenco  at the Conservatorio Superior de Danza de Malaga.” Born in the “Linea de la Concepcion (Cadiz),” Cecilia felt an attraction to dance at an early age and continued her dance studies of “Clasico Espanol” at the Conservatory of dance in Málaga.  She continued her training at various prestigious schools including Corral de la Moreria, Café de Chinitas and Casa Patas. Gómez has toured the world alongside other renowned dancers and choreographers.

In 2010, Cecilia created her own company to which she serves as the director and lead artist. Her first formal work, “Cayetana, su pasión”  marked the beginning of her success as a choreographer.  A few years ago, she created her second complete work, a tribute to Chavela Vargas entitled ”Homenaje Flamenco a Chavela Vargas” or “Flameco Tribute to Chavela Vargas” or “Cupaima”. The dance, composed of ten scenes, follows Chavela’s life beginning with her introduction to shamanism then going through her most monumental experiences. Before choreographing the tribute, Gómez met with Chavela in Mexico to propose her idea. They discussed what the dance should encompass and what was important to highlight. Over the following couple of years they continued to meet and plan out the dance. 

Cecilia Gómez takes her audiences through a journey with every performance. In the case of “Cupaima”, Chevela Varges’ story is brought to life with each movement. Every “gólpe”, “tacón” and “punta” epitomize the passion and energy of Chevela through the grace and fierceness of Gómez’s movements. The ranchera queen lives on!

Cecilia Gomez. Photo courtesy of Cecilia Gomez's Offical website. (http://www.ceciliagomezdanza.com/)

Cecilia Gomez. Photo courtesy of Cecilia Gomez's Offical website. (http://www.ceciliagomezdanza.com/)

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Martirio: A Soothing Spanish Songstress
(From left) Catherine Gund, Martirio, Daresha Kyi & Lina Badenes.

(From left) Catherine Gund, Martirio, Daresha Kyi & Lina Badenes.

By Yurema Perez-Hinojosa

Aubin Pictures just wrapped up a film shoot in Spain, which included an interview with Maria Isabel Quiñones Gutiérrez. Amor Puro y Duro Co-producers/directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi sat down with Gutiérrez, more famously known in the flamenco music world as Martirio (which translates to "martyrdom"), to discuss her experiences and how Chavela Vargas has influenced her.

Martirio is famous for her distinctive fusion of Flamenco musicality with other genres such as jazz and pop. When listening to her songs,  she emotes in every note. Her vibrato can be reminiscent of great sorrow or immense joy. Each melody, rhythm, and cadence carry a story.

Photo courtesey of Martirio's Official Facebook page.  (https://www.facebook.com/MartirioOfficial/) 

Photo courtesey of Martirio's Official Facebook page.  (https://www.facebook.com/MartirioOfficial/

Martirio had a close relationship with Chavela throughout her life who was an idol, a mentor and a friend to Martirio. Martirio dedicated an entire album to Chavela Vargas entitled "De un mundo raro" (From a strange world) in 2013. When reflecting on her relationship with Chavela, Martirio stated:

“I still reflect on all the teachings and experiences that I lived with Chavela and I still have so much to learn from her - her enviable freedom, her unmistakable dignity, and her strong personality.”

Martirio's most recent album "De un Mundo Raro (Cantes Por Chavela)" (2013)  is the singer's tribute to Cha The songs are soothing and exhibit a gentle flow. It's the type of music you would play on a late spring evening, the open windows letting in a breeze as Martirio's voice courses through the room.

Martirio is considered an influential innovator in the Flamenco music scene. She is not confined by the standards of sticking to one genre. Her unique aesthetic has contributed to her success and her work continues to pay tribute to her mentorship with Chavela Vargas.

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Discovering Chavela

I had never heard of Chavela Vargas until this summer, when I began my internship at Aubin Pictures. Once I heard Chavela’s story I was automatically hooked. Chavela is an inspiration. She fearlessly broke gender roles and social constructs and she lived to create music that is unlike anything else. Listening to Chavela is a truly unique experience. I struggled through my high school Spanish classes, yet I effortlessly understand her songs. This is because every word that rolls off her tongue is suffused with pure emotion. Anyone can listen to her, know what she is feeling, and feel it with her. Right now I am sitting at my desk surrounded by papers, wearing my oversized headphones, and melting into the soothing romantic rasp of Chavela Vargas’ voice, as she helps transport me from the busy New York City street sounds below. As one song transitions into the next, I feel her heartbreak, I feel her nostalgia, I feel her joy. 

Today is my last day here at Aubin Pictures. I do not want to leave the Amor Puro y Duro film process but, I have to go back to school. As I walk out of here and head back home, I am sad, but also thankful. For I have discovered a new love - Chavela Vargas - whose sound and story I will forever carry.

-Emily Rizzo

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Penny For Your Thoughts

The word "Macorina," (which is also the name of Chavela's most popular song) has as many letters as the word Maricona. Is it a coincidence? Is it just ready to be unscrambled by the cognoscenti? I would not let that one pass so easily....

Maricon is the way to say "queer" in Mexico, and in most of Latin American. I have also heard Maricona, used to describe a woman who is a Lesbian. A penny for your thoughts?  

-Armando Zetina

 

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Dinner with Chavela

I met Chavela in Mexico City, when we were both guests at an intimate dinner party. She told me a story that I found very funny and typical of her.

The story she told me goes like this: "When I went to France very early in my career, I did not have a good time. I was dressed in my folkloric  Mexican style, my hair on a braid, rebozo, huaraches, all the way. They did not understand me and did not treat me well. My revenge was that when they took me to see the Tour Eiffel I covered my eyes and did not look at it, and there you have it."

-Armando Zetina

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Truth

Every time I hear Chavela Vargas I hear truth. Not necessarily in what she is singing, but how she is singing. Through her voice I am reminded that there is a place where joy, pain, & hope stand complete and there is nothing left for one to do but face them. 

-Natalie Peart

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Beyond the Lights

I was first introduced to Chavela Vargas when I started interning at Aubin Pictures and boy, am I glad I was. Chavela spoke to me the moment I saw her face. There’s something about her eyes that really drew me to her. They looked full of pain and sorrow. Just one look at her and I knew there was more to her than her raspy voice and colorful ponchos. I knew there was a story to be told. That she had seen and been through more than I could imagine. The most beautiful thing is that she turned those stories into music! She found a way to comfort people with her pain. Even though I know as much Spanish as I do Chinese (none), with Chavela’s music I don’t have to know what she’s saying in order to understand her. I am drawn to the way she sings the words rather than what they mean. Chavela sings with passion. Her facial expressions said it all when she was performing. When she was on stage she wasn’t making cute faces and trying to look pretty for the audience. The faces she made truly embodied how she felt. That is part of the reason why I understand her. Through her music, not only am I able to feel her pain but relieve mine as well.

Her music wasn’t the only thing I fell in love with, her view on life really changed me. She was, as everyone loves to say, a total badass! I am the kind of person that is too scared to take risks and tends to care about what other people think. Which brings me to one of the reasons why I find Chavela so inspiring. She didn’t care about what other people thought of her and she made sure everyone knew it. Instead of letting other people tell her who she was, she defined herself. She knew exactly who she was and made sure the world did as well. In a way she taught me a very valuable lesson: she taught me to be myself and to not be defined by anyone but myself. A quote that comes to mind when I think of Chavela is, “Accept no ones definition of your life, Define yourself!”

I am going to conclude this by saying: Thank you Chavela Vargas for helping me be a better me. Gone but never forgotten, may your beautiful soul rest in peace.

-Ratha Ali

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