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Chile, 2011, 110 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Drama, Music
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Women + FilmLanguage: Spanish English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Andrés Wood
Editor: Andrea ChignoliScreenwriter: Eliseo AltunagaCinematographer: Miguel Ioann Littin MenzPrincipal Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Christian Quevedo, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías, Marcial Tagle
Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra was a volatile, passionate, political force who wrote both songs of lyrical love and strident diatribes in defense of the oppressed. This dramatization of her life by Andrés Wood (Machuca) is both ethereal and very much down-to-earth. The major events of Parra’s life show out of order, but always in a way that orients the viewer to her quest to find her place. She wanders through the Andes to ask an old man to teach her songs, but he refuses because of the death of his grandchild. She travels to the International Youth Festival in Poland to share the culture of Chile through her music, but returns home to find her one-year-old daughter dead. She exhibits tapestries at the Louvre in Paris, where she begins a tumultuous relationship with anthropologist Gilbert Favre. Finally, she builds a tent in the Chilean hills to house an arts center. At each point, she seeks a sense of belonging that can only partially be met.
The film presents an unflinching portrait of Parra, who grew up poor in southern Chile, the daughter of a charming but alcoholic schoolteacher. She is shown in myriad contradictions—strong-willed, kind, tempestuous, gregarious, lonely, and a mother who largely failed her children.
Violeta Went to Heaven is based on the memoirs of her son, Angel, and structured around remembrances of her life from a television interview that she gave in 1962. It was Chile’s 2012 submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
- VAL MOSES
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