Violeta Went to Heaven

(Violeta se fue a los cielos)
(Chile, 2012, 110 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Francisca Gavilán, Cristián Quevedo, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera

Andrés Wood’s Machuca was a favourite with VIFF audiences, and his latest—the story of Chilean Violeta Parra, the mother of Latin American folk music, tracing her evolution from an impoverished childhood to international sensation and Latin pop culture icon—demonstrates the same style and grace. "Before Bob Dylan, in the south of the world, there was Violeta Parra," say the film’s producers, and Wood manages to brilliantly capture the up and downs of her tumultuous life, no small thanks to Francisca Gavilán’s stunning lead performance.

"The intense, remarkable life of the Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra is explored with sensitivity and exquisite lightness of touch in Andres Wood’s Violeta Went to Heaven. Featuring a searching central performance from Francisca Gavilan, this beautifully lensed portrait moves elegantly back and forth in time to limn the life of a woman who perpetually struggled to find her place… Gavilan delivers a profoundly committed, rangy perf that manages to be intense, gutsy and nuanced all at once, and bespeaks an awareness of the importance of getting Parra right for the sake of Chilean audiences. The script allows for a warts-and-all portrait that’s far from simple hagiography. Parra’s multiple contradictions are all there… Typically of Wood’s films, production values are topnotch. The use of locations is especially strong…"—Jonathan Holland, Variety