“Gracias a la vida” (“Thanks to life”) is a universal hymn, a sacred phrase, and a reference for Latin America from the New Chilean Song Movement. Violeta Parra wrote it in the mid-sixties, and even today it is an ode to the true value of our existence: the gift of being alive. This song, like the rest of her compositions, poetry, paintings, and textile work, has elevated her as a complete artist, national folklore icon, and a reference in Chilean folk music for the world. This edition of Thursdays of Chilean Cinema, we embrace her life and legacy through two extraordinary pieces: Violeta Went to Heaven by Andrés Wood, and Sing With Meaning by Leonardo Beltrán.
In Violeta Went to Heaven, Francisca Gavilán gives life to Violeta Parra through a marvellous interpretation that consecrated her as one of the most important performers in the history of national cinema. The film submerges us in a non-linear, non-chronological reconstruction of the internal world of the artist, and of the people with whom she shared her life, travels, loves, dreams, frustrations, illusions, and fears.
Through devices such as the flashback and flashforward, Violeta Went to Heaven is a journey through her story, from La Carpa de la Reina, to her exhibit at the Louvre, her childhood with her siblings in the countryside, and her love of Gilbert Favre, it’s a dignifying narrative of the most important singer-songwriter in our country.
Following its premiere in 2011, it became the Chilean film with the most successful box office numbers of the year and was nominated for the Goya Awards. It also participated in cinema events such as Sundance, Toulouse, and Huelva, among others. It was reviewed by Variety as a film that explores the life of Parra “with sensibility and exquisite lightness of touch. It’s a marvellous portrait”.
Sing With Meaning is an extraordinary animated homage to Violeta Parra, a production that seeks to make the legacy of the artist more near to the public. The 23-minute short retraces her life from the deep and impoverished countryside to an old, distant Europe, always fighting her way forward, even in her farewell.
Violeta Parra exhibited her art despite her misfortunes, and this piece, through illustration, claymation, and other techniques, including more than 50 characters and 20 sets, shows some of the crucial milestones that formed her as a person and an artist.
Produced by Plastivida and Niño Viejo, Sing With Meaning invites us to take a look at the story of the woman who rescued folklore in a country with amnesia.
In 2018, it obtained the award for Best Animation Commissioned Film at the Quirino Awards and the CyberVote Award from the Foundation of the New Latin American Cinema at the Havana Film Festival.