March 8, 2018
Born in Costa Rica to pious parents who were embarrassed by their boyish daughter, Isabel Vargas Lizano ran away to Mexico City to sing on the streets. At the peak of her initial popularity in the 1950s, dressed in a poncho, she interpreted the mournful, yearning repertoire of canción ranchera without altering the female pronouns. Her Madrid concert premiere in the 1990s, following years in rural isolation as an impoverished alcoholic, brought her into contact with Pedro Almodóvar, who helped his “idol” fulfill a dream of performing in Paris. She had just returned to performing when she agreed to a 1991 interview with filmmaker Gund; much of Chavela was filmed in that year. Despite a public persona as “the most macha of the machos,” Vargas was still not entirely comfortable with identifying openly as a lesbian at the time of filming. She ultimately confirmed her sexual orientation in 2000 at the age of 81. Presented in partnership with Instituto Cervantes as part of the Bank of America Free Thursday Film Series.
2017; Catherine Gund & Daresha Kyi; English; 93 minutes; not rated.
Free ticketed event; tickets available one hour before show