CHAVELA Releases Official Trailer for the Film About Legendary Lesbian Singer Chavela Vargas



AfterEllen is excited to premier the official trailer for CHAVELA, presented by Music Box Films. The film, directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi. is the captivating portrait of barrier-breaking Mexican ranchera singer Chavela Vargas, whose international fame peaked after a triumphant return to the stage at the age of 71. From Music Box Films:

CHAVELA centers around a 1992 interview–the singer’s first public appearance after 12 hard years lost to alcoholism and heartbreak. Her amazing comeback began when Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, who had featured her music in many of his films, played an instrumental role in elevating her career to international acclaim. Whenever he introduced her to the public, he would kneel down to kiss the stage before she performed at renowned venues like New York’s Carnegie Hall, Paris’ L’Olympia Theatre, and Madrid’s Plaza de España.

In her lifetime, Chavela was credited with recording 80 albums, received a Latin Grammy for Lifetime Achievement, and was the second woman to win Spain’s most prestigious artistic award, the Grand Cross of Isabel, the Catholic. Chavela passed away in 2012 at the age of 93.


CHAVELA will open at Film Forum in New York on Wednesday October 4th and at the Nuart in Los Angeles on October 6. A national release will follow.

You can read about the life and music of Mexican legend Chavela Vargas in our 2005 profile and learn about this incredible and fascinating woman.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s in Mexico, singer Chavela Vargas dressed in men’s clothes, drank and smoked cigars like any man, carried a gun with her, and was notorious for her love of women. Some even say that she once kidnapped a woman at gunpoint, but Vargas denies that rumor. She doesn’t deny, however, that she gained her slight limp from jumping out of a window because a woman disappointed her in love. If that’s true, Vargas in her youth was every bit as romantic as the music she sang.

A legend in Mexican ranchera music — traditional folk music filled with lusty songs about women and romance and heartbreak — Vargas publicly came out as a lesbian in 2000 at the age of 81, the same year she was awarded Spain’s Great Cross of Isabel la Católica, the country’s highest honor for artistic production.

Speaking to Madrid’s El País newspaper in October 2000, Vargas declared, “I’ve had to fight to be myself and to be respected. I’m proud to carry this stigma and call myself a lesbian. I don’t boast about it or broadcast it, but I don’t deny it. I’ve had to confront society and the Church, which says that homosexuals are damned. That’s absurd. How can someone who’s born like this be judged?”

“I didn’t attend lesbian classes. No one taught me to be this way. I was born this way, from the moment I opened my eyes in this world. I’ve never been to bed with a man. Never. That’s how pure I am; I have nothing to be ashamed of. My gods made me the way I am.” 

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