Singer Chavela Vargas gained a name for herself firstly in Mexico and later worldwide chiefly for her interpretation of traditional rancheras. These songs were mainly composed by men and mostly speak of unfulfilled love for women, world-weariness and loneliness. Chavela performed them with her own unique feeling for rhythm and her distinctively rough and yet vulnerable voice. Her masculine appearance and red poncho made her unmistakable. In Acapulco, which in the 1960s was the playground for the rich and famous in the world of politics and culture, she rubbed shoulders with many celebrities, turning the heads of Frida Kahlo and Ava Gardner with her charm and striking beauty. After a 13-year break from performing brought on as a result of her addiction to alcohol she was rediscovered in the 1990s and enjoyed a glorious comeback as the muse of artists and directors such as Pedro Almodóvar. The unpublished material in this film, as well as the interviews with Chavela herself and her contemporaries, colleagues and partners have resulted in an affectionate portrait of a charismatic and exceptional artist - who was openly lesbian throughout her life until her death in 2012 at the age of 93.
by Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
with Chavela Vargas, Pedro Almodóvar
USA 2017 Spanish, English 90’ Colour & Black/White Documentary form


  • Chavela Vargas
  • Pedro Almodóvar


Director Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
Editing Carla Gutierrez
Music Gil Talmi
Executive Producers Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin
Producers Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi

Produced by

Aubin Pictures

Catherine Gund

Born in Geelong, Australia in 1965, she is a producer, director and writer. Her work focuses on arts, culture and social issues. She is a founder of the Aubin Pictures production company. Her film Born to Fly was nominated for an Emmy; What’s On Your Plate? screened in Culinary Cinema in 2009.


1996 When Democracy Works; short film 1998 Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance 1999 Object Lessons; short film 2004 Making Grace 2009 What’s On Your Plate?; documentary, IFB Culinary Cinema 2014 Born to Fly 2017 Chavela

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017

Daresha Kyi

Born in Los Angeles, USA in 1962, she has been a filmmaker and producer for more than 25 years. She studied at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York and is part of the team of the production company Aubin Pictures.


1986 Just Because of Who We Are; Co-director: Heramedia, short film 1991 Land Where My Fathers Died; short film 2017 Chavela

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017