Violeta se fue a los cielos (Violeta Went to Heaven)
By Daniel Martinez With on February 05, 2012

Overall, this was my favorite film of Sundance Film Festival for a variety of reasons. It was the winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize for best international film. Violeta is a film about Violeta Parra, a Chilean folk artist who transformed folk art. She was the inspiration for some of the world’s most celebrated folk artists including the famously revered Bob Dylan. The film chronicled Violeta’s life, showing her difficult childhood as the child of an alcoholic father, early career as part of a travelling circus, and her adult life as a celebrated artist in Chile and Europe. The story was underscored by her romance with a Swiss man, who supplemented her own love affair with music and art. She is troubled by other’s inability to understand her art, particularly those in the upper echelons of society and decides to open what she terms as the “University of Folklore” where she would perform for others under a tent in unpretentious conditions. However, she is tormented by her life, particularly by her failure in love, and ends up committing suicide in a period when her sanity is being questioned and her music is being misunderstood. The movie was compelling for me because of my own Chilean background. I was proud of such a powerful film being produced by Chileans and was also moved by the story. However, I was also touched by the honesty of the lead actor’s performance, bringing to light a complicated life together with powerful musical ability which the lead actor actually had to perform and recreate in the film. I was incredibly impressed by the actor’s ability to do that and to display so much talent not only in acting but also in singing and performing; she was truly reflecting Violeta's own multi-faceted abilities and personality. I was somewhat disappointed, however, because I was really looking forward to the Q & A that would follow after the film. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were already back in Chile following the premiere of their film earlier in the week. I would have enjoyed the questions from an American audience for a Chilean staff on a project that is so important to people of multiple cultures across the world; I would love to hear other people's reactions to the film and to discuss the cross-cultural elements that I felt may have been missed due to less than acceptable subtitles.

About the Author: Daniel Martinez
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