Director: Andrés Wood
Starring: Francisca Gavilán, Gabriela Aguilera, Daniel Antivilo, Stephaina Barbagelata
Language: Spanish, French
Duration: 110 min.
The remarkable life story of Chilean composer, songwriter, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist Violetta Parra.
Violeta is a film directed by Andrés Wood, based on the biography of Chilean artist and folk musician Violetta Parra written by her son Ángel Parra. It is Chile's official submission to the 2012 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, and is also scheduled to compete in the World Dramatic section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
It's a compelling life story told in non-sequential order, that resembles something of an impressionistic portrait of an artist than the usual hero worshiping biopic. Set around a television interview in Argentina that Parra gave in 1962, the director uses her sharp answers to a condescending host, to cue flashbacks to different moments and events in her tumultuous life.
Of course this type of film is nothing without a convincing lead, and although I am hardly a qualified judge as to Francisca Gavilán's similarity to Parra, I can say that she delivers an altogether powerful and heartfelt performance of a conflicted individual with a wide range of raw emotions. She comes across as a strong personality who may not be the most likeable or the most talented, but whose music and creativity comes straight from the soul.
I also can't speak for the accuracy of details, but I did appreciate the fact that Wood presents what seems to be an honest account, never trying to turn Parra into a sympathetic figure of legend as often happens in films of this genre, but showcasing the good and the bad equally.
This won't likely get shortlisted at the Oscars, but it is a well directed film with an interesting story, an intense performance, and it has opened my ears up to some amazing Chilean folk songs.
— Bonjour Tristesse