Violeta Went to Heaven

Image: Francisca Gavilan by Wood Producciones

Violeta se fue a los cielos

“The intense, remarkable life of the Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra is explored with sensitivity and exquisite lightness of touch.” — Jonathan Holland, Variety

Director: Andrés Wood
Year: 2011
Running time: 110 mins
Censor Rating: M - violence, offensive language, sex scenes

Screenplay: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood. Based on the book by Ángel Parra
Photography: Miguel Ioan Littin
Editor: Andrea Chignoli
Music: Violeta Parra
In Spanish and French, with English subtitles
Colour and B&W

With: Francisca Gavilán (Violeta Parra), Thomas Durand (Gilbert Favre), Christián Quevedo (Nicanor Parra), Patricio Ossa (Ángel), Luis Machín (interviewer), Stephania Barbagelata (Carmen Luisa), Roberto Farías (Luis Arce), Gabriela Aguilera (Hilda Parra)

Festivals: Sundance 2012

“Like a Chilean Edith Piaf or Bob Dylan, Violeta Parra [1917–67] was a folksinger and pop culture icon whose songs expressed the soul of her nation and protested social injustice. Violeta Went to Heaven tells Parra’s extraordinary story, tracing her evolution from impoverished child to international sensation... while capturing the swirling intensity of her inner contradictions, fallibilities, and passions. Director Andrés Wood [Machuca, NZIFF05]… wisely moves beyond linear biography, drawing on an impressionistic structure and a reverberating performance by actress Francisca Gavilán, to unearth the elusive, charged core of this magnetic character. Wood evocatively interweaves key set pieces from Parra’s life – her humble family roots, her Paris foray as a celebrated visual artist [tapestry and embroidery], her travels through Chile to preserve disappearing traditional culture, her tenuous hold on motherhood, and her tumultuous love life.” — Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival

Based on the book by her son Ángel Parra (also a musician), this story has little sympathy for Parra’s second husband, the young Swiss anthropologist Gilbert Favre who loves her as an exotic icon rather than a needy woman. Craving companionship, she leans heavily on her surviving two children… However, music is the one constant companion for Violeta in her highly fluctuating existence, whether surrounded by birds, goats and berries in the Andes, or negotiating for her work to be displayed in the Louvre. Parra’s vulnerable, penetrating folk songs score the epic journey of her life with a deep poetic intensity, making for soul-wrenching viewing. — JR

For Wellington screenings only: We regret that it is impossible to screen the English subtitles on this film at the Penthouse. The screenings will continue as advertised for the benefit of Spanish speakers. Two extra screenings have been arranged at the Embassy Deluxe, featuring English subtitles.