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Chavela Vargas (1919 – 2012) was a well-known Mexican, nightclub singer who had affairs with the wives of numerous politicians.

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Her tequila-fueled songs were distillations of life’s pains in general and the agonizing aspects of romantic love in particular. She undoubtedly drew on her own misery for her dramatic performances in Acapulco.

She retired after a quarter of a century and her fame faded over time.

Chavela, the documentary directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi, (USA) 2017, began with a video interview of the vocalist made during the 80s. It includes not only historical footage but also a large collection of photos provided by the woman who was her lawyer and long-time companion.

Film director Pedro Almodovar arranged for a concert in Spain in the 90s, and eventually a booking at the Olympia Theater in Paris, relaunching her career’

Despite her initial fear of performing sober, she reached an entirely new audience during her final years.

Chavela played initially to a packed audience at the Castro Theatre and screened again at the Landmark Theatres Piedmont during Frameline 41.

It won the audience award for best documentary at the festival.

Contact Frameline for more information.

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Last Words

I Dream In Another Language directed by Ernesto Contreras (Mexico/Netherlands) 2017 involves the effort to preserve a dying language.

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A young researcher arrives in a remote village nestled in a lush, Mexican rainforest hoping to record a nearly extinct indigenous language while the last three native speakers are still alive. One speaker dies shortly after he gets there, leaving only two men who haven’t spoken to one another in decades.

The heart of the film revolves around a complex, volatile relationship spanning years.

It’s one of the centerpiece programs of the forthcoming Frameline 41 festival and is scheduled to screen 20 June 2017 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

Contact Frameline for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Juanga Gone

Juan Gabriel, born Alberto Aguilera Valdez and known to many of his fans as Juanga, died last month from a heart attack at the age of 66.

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His work encompassed numerous musical genres including bolero, Mariachi, balada, and Latin pop. Many of his compositions were also recorded by other artists such as Rocío Dúrcal, Ana Gabriel, José José, Luis Miguel, Daniela Romo, and Lucha Villa.

Juanga’s best-known song is Querida, but when I think about his compositions the first thing that comes to mind is an amusing line from another piece, no hay mas en Guaymas.

Lorenzo Antonio recorded two tribute albums, Mi Tributo A Juan Gabriel and Tributo 2.

Juan Gabriel  was one of the most prolific singers and composers in Mexico. A flamboyant, closeted performer afraid to come out because he worried it would adversely impact his career.

I first heard about him during a 1984 visit to Mexico that began with a stopover in Tijuana. I was given a personal tour of the city by Emilio, a local activist, who pointed out a house Juan Gabriel bought for a man who helped the singer-composer early on. In a Mexico City music store I encountered a life-size, cardboard, cutout of Gabriel that was part of national promotion by his record label.

Though I was curious about Mexican popular music then, I didn’t begin collecting CD’s until 1995. I like romantica!

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com