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Films, documentaries, biopics

Exhibition On Screen - Frida Kahlo (2020)

Directed by Ali Ray
Writers: Phil Grabsky and Ali Ray

Exhibition on Screen™ is the originator and pioneer of bringing exhibition-based art films to the cinema. The documentary dedicated to Frida Kahlo was in cinemas starting from 20 October 2020 and will be shown at the Sedona International Film Festival on October 27, 2020.

Using letters Kahlo wrote to guide us, this definitive film reveals her deepest emotions and unlocks the secrets and symbolism contained within her art. Exhibition on Screen’s trademark combination of interviews, commentary and a detailed exploration of her art delivers a treasure trove of color and a feast of vibrancy.
Filmed extensively at The Blue House in Mexico City, this personal and intimate film offers privileged access to her works, and highlights the source of her feverish creativity, her resilience, and her unmatched lust for life, politics, men and women.

“Directing this film has totally changed my view on Frida Kahlo as an artist,” said director Ali Ray. “Now, having studied her works closely and understanding their context of time and place, I am utterly gripped. Having access to her personal letters was a key part of making the film, and in my own understanding of her work. It enabled me to see how the fragility and insecurities revealed in her letters were processed through the act of painting. Her meticulously painted canvases were how she interpreted the world, her politics, passions and emotions, transforming them into images of strength, defiance and understanding.”

(taken from VerdeNews.com)

From an interesting review by The Reviews Hub:

Exhibition On Screen fulfils its brief in giving not just an overview of Frida Kahlo, but offering fresh artistic insight. Highlighting Kahlo’s technical and conceptual prowess, Exhibition On Screen ensures that we are left in no doubt of Frida’s place in art history. Kahlo not only makes herself artist and muse, her visual vocabulary – pain, suffering and love – goes to the heart of the human condition. We are shown Kahlo in her truest form and her own image: emotionally complex and fiercely radical.

Go to the Exhibition on Screen website to buy this film (download/stream/dvd).

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Frida - Viva la Vida (2019)

The docu-film directed by Giovanni Troilo proposes a journey in six chapters in search of Frida, in the heart of Mexico, among cactus, monkeys, deers and parrots, alternating exclusive interviews, period documents, evocative reconstructions and works by Kahlo herself, including the most famous self-portraits (from the one with Diego Rivera of 1931 to the Two Fridas of 1939, from The broken column of 1944 to the Wounded Deer of 1946).
The final images, in which the two Frida appear, are archive and unknown ones. The discovery was exciting: "It took us months to find their origin. They were shot by Lola Alvarez Bravo, the only gallery owner, woman among other things, who organized a retrospective during Frida's life in 1953, the year before her death. They are part of an unfinished documentary, precisely because of the painter's dramatic health conditions ». the director says in an interview with the newspaper La stampa.

The film Frida - Viva la Vida, directed by Gianni Troilo, was distributed by Nexo Digital  in Italy from 25 to 27 November 2019.

Not all reviews were positive:

"The interviews with experts on Frida's private and artistic life follow a fil rouge made up of Frida's own words: letters, diaries and private confessions.

In the middle there are avoidable authorial segments, such as the model representing the soul of the two Frida who runs and walks and pines as in a Malik film and the highly questionable choice of Asia Argento as a narrative voice, which hits a lot the ear of the spectator.

Frida Kahlo's life and works should be left to speak for themselves, without metaphorical or rhetorical twirls. "
by Non solo cinema 

For an interesting interview (in Italian) with the director and other insights click here.

Click here for the trailer.

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 Dos-Fridas

Dos Fridas (2018)

"Dos Fridas” , directed by Ishtar Yasin, was inspired by the relationship between Frida and the Costa Rican nurse Judith Ferreto, who took care of Frida during the final years of her life.
In her memories, Frida was cared for by Judith in her Blue house in México. As a mirror, Judith was cared for by a woman in Costa Rica. In Judith's inner world, reveries, myths, imagination and reality intertwine.
Frida is played by the director Ishtar Yasin herself.

"Dos Fridas" showed in the Competition of the 22nd Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in 2018 and at Sundance in 2019.

Review by Julia Morales: “This film is a love poem to Frida Kahlo and the Mexican culture. It reflects upon resilience through pain, freedom of artistic expression, as well as freedom of sexuality. The actors in the film create a wonderfully surreal story that exposes a new light into Frida Kahlo’s tough life. This film is truly a gift to the Mexican art community, and the Latino art community as a whole. It unapologetically speaks truth of things that are oftentimes overlooked within Frida’s life, and creates a reflective story through her trauma. I truly enjoyed Dos Fridas as a Latina filmmaker myself, and I would highly recommend viewing this film when you’re in an existential mood. “

Click here for a totally different review by DMovies.

At this link one trailer on You Tube.

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Chez Frida Kahlo (2011)

A film by Xavier D'Arthus and Xavier Villetard directed by Xavier Villetard

This documentary details the relationship of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, highlighting the role that the couple and Casa Azul took in the days of Communists fleeing to Mexico. It shows how Leon Trotsky's exile to Mexico City and Casa Azul affected the couple and their circle. Rare footage of Frida, Diego, Trotsky, and stock footage of Casa Azul and the couple's shared home are the core of the movie.

Visit the Publisher website to watch a teaser. Full movie is also available in French and English.

 

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The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (2005)

"The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" chronicles the life and art of the great Mexican painter as never before, framing Kahlo's life in relationship to the historical and cultural influences that inspired her and defined the first half of the 20th century. The 90-minute high-definition film is a production of Daylight Films and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. It premieres March 23, 2005, at 9 p.m., on PBS stations nationwide. (Check local listings.)

Visit the website dedicated to this TV documentary

youtube link to full documentary

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"Frida" (2002)

"Frida", directed by Julie Taymor, stars Salma Hayek (Frida), Alfred Molina (Diego Rivera), Antonio Banderas (David Alfaro Siqueiros), Ashley Judd (Tina Modotti) and many others.

Internet Movie Database
articol from El Andar tells us the story of the "Hollywood's long, slow race to make the definitive Frida Kahlo film"

 

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Great Women Artists: Frida Kahlo (2001)

This documentary is part of a series that profiles outstanding women artists. This volume focuses on the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. As a young girl, Kahlo suffered terrible injuries in a traffic accident. Her lifelong struggle with pain shaped and informed her art. Her bold style and emotionally charged works capture the passion she displayed in all aspects of her life. Married to the muralist Diego Rivera, she was great friends with Leon Trotsky, whose philosophy she embraced. This documentary presents some of Kahlo's best-known paintings.

 
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"Frida Kahlo's Corset" (2000)

Frida Kahlo's Corset is a short experimental drama that follows a journey of transformation by Frida who wore
a series of orthopaedic corsets because of impairment. The film draws on Kahlo's own words and characteristically bold painting style. It refutes the picture of Kahlo's life as one of tragedy and suffering. As Liz Crow said in an interesting  interview "She struggled, true, but as an absolute survivor, not a victim. So in the film the corset is both literal and symbolic.
It's literally an assault on her sense of her self, but the corset and the way it's applied are also symbols of colonisation - one of the major themes of her work - in this case the medical colonisation of the body. The film shows a journey of transformation as she establishes a new sense of self."

(UK/Sp 2000) 16mm: 10 min. Director: Liz Crow, Production Company: Infinite Blue Productions Picture This Moving Image, Production Design: Melanie Leeson, editor: Andy Moss, music/composer: Caravanserai, Hetty Hope, writer: Liz Crow, Ralph Hoyte, Cast: Isolte Avila, Laura Jerram, Carmen Brauning.

Read here the complete interview with Liz Crow 


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"A Ribbon Around a Bomb" (1992)

It is hardly enough time to do justice to the passionate life and art of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who seems about to jump off the canvases of her vibrant, fantastic self-portraits. Even more than her accessible art, Kahlo's explosive existence has made her something of a pop icon in recent years.
That well-documented life is the subject of "Frida Kahlo: A Ribbon Around a Bomb," a part-documentary, part-performance film published on 1992.
The director Ken Mandel takes a scattershot approach to this material. He weaves together interviews with people who knew Kahlo, several photographs and films of her, and many shots of her most familiar paintings. Most successfully, he includes excerpts of a theater piece by Abraham Oceransky called "The Diary of Frida Kahlo," presented by Teatro Dallas.
The documentary sections are extremely weak, because Kahlo's associates are not sufficiently identified, their often spurious opinions not put in any context. Surely the bloodiness of Kahlo's paintings cannot be traced simply to her one-time ambition to study medicine, as an interview subject claims. But the dramatized episodes, based on Kahlo's diaries, are surprisingly effective.
Most of this theater piece is a monologue performed by Cora Cardona, sometimes joined by Quigley Provost as a younger Kahlo. Ms. Cardona does not imitate Kahlo so much as bring the depths of that volcanic, tortured personality to life. Depicting Kahlo's reaction to her accident, she wraps a large chain around her leg and reveals both pain and astonishing strength as she says: "I am not dead. I am not sick. I am only broken."
Still, the film, whose subtitle comes from Andre Breton's description of Kahlo's art, is likely to be too shallow for anyone who knows her story and too sketchy for anyone unfamiliar with it. Ms. Cardona's trenchant performance hints at how illuminating this film might have been.


Directed and edited by Ken Mandel; based on the play by Abraham Oceransky; director of photography, Jeff Hurst; music by John Bryant and Frank Hames; produced by Mr. Hurst, Mr. Mandel and Cora Cardona; a Roxie release. Performed by: Cora Cardona, Quigley Provost and Costa Caglage.

taken from The New York Times
youtube video

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"Diego Rivera: I paint what I see" (1989)

The first biographical film on the famed Mexican artist, "DIEGO RIVERA: I PAINT WHAT I SEE", directed by Mary Lance, traces his life from childhood through his Cubist period, his leading role in the Mexican mural renaissance, his fame as a muralist in the USA, and his later years.
The film explores Rivera's life and work, including his stormy relationship with Frida Kahlo and the destruction of his famous mural at Rockefeller Center.
Shot on location in Mexico and the United States, the film includes a remarkable collection of archival film and photographs, much of which has not been seen before. The text is drawn from the writings of Rivera and Kahlo and from other historical texts. Using Rivera's own words, this richly detailed film brings to life the difficulty he faced in his transition from studio artist to public and political artist, and the conflicts that arose from that point onward.

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"Frida, Naturaleza Viva" (1983)

directed by Paul Leduc, starring Ofelia Medina as Frida Kahlo

click here to see the complete movie in YouTube

Review by Jayne Margetts

"For director Paul Leduc it would have been a difficult task to try to capture facets of Frida's vivid and flamboyant personality and life in any feature-length format, let alone recreating some of the defining moments that shaped the artist she was. But with his grainy and abstract, re-enacted documentary Frida, Naturaleza Viva he has done Kahlo proud in not succumbing to heavy analysis. Rather, he chooses to piece together snapshots of her life with the grace of humility of directing a rustic opera performed to a minimal backdrop.

Review by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Through his eyes we experience Kahlo's stormy relationship with muralist Diego Rivera, her comradeship and sentimentality with the exiled Leon Trotsky, her struggle for acceptance as an artist, her patriotism and love for Mexico her affairs with David Squiros and the horrors of her miscarriage and the amputation of her leg....

Actress Ofelia Medina who portrays Kahlo bears not only an uncanny resemblance, but shares her mannerisms, her dignity and her feverish passion, while Luduc's camera roves silently across the parchment of her sacred paintings capturing the ambience and atmosphere of those troubled and turbulent times in which she lived.

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Portrait of an Artist: Frida Kahlo (1983)

FRIDA KAHLO (Art Documentary) (2007)

A film by EILA HERSHON and ROBERTO GUERRA

 

Commentary by Hayden Herrera
Narrated by Sada Thompson
Edited by Caroline Emmonds
Directed by Eila Hershon, Roberto Guerra and Wibke von Bonin

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Frida Kahlo & Tina Modotti (1982)

Laura Mulvey & Peter Wollen, 30 mins Colour 16 mm film.

A documentary about the lives and work of painter Frida Kahlo and photographer Tina Modotti, divided into sections: History; Popular Life and Culture; Roots and Movements; Biography; Inward/Outward; The Body; Injury/Beauty. Also included is a home movie of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at their 'Blue House' in Coyoacan, and Tina Modotti in the 1919 Hollywood film,The Tigers Coat.

Both Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti were artists working in Mexico in the aftermath of the Revolution, during a period of general cultural awakening and social change. Frida was married to Diego Rivera and was born, worked and died in the same 'blue house' in Coyoacan, while Tina Modotti emigrated to California with her family from Udine, Italy, and travelled to Mexico with Edward Weston, where she then stayed to become a photographer in her own right. The broad similarities between their lives bind the film as a whole, reflecting on the representation of women, women's art and feminist aesthetics; while the differences between them make up the content.

More info at the Luxonline website

youtube video

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"The Life and Death of Frida Kahlo as Told to Karen and David Crommie" (1966)

In 1965 Karen and David Crommie made this film featuring interviews with many people who knew and worked with Frida and are no longer with us. Frida was quite unknown when the film debuted in 1966 at the San Francisco International Film Festival and when Hayden Herrera saw it at a screening in New York later that year she was motivated to write her Frida's biography.

The first ever Frida documentary. And the rest is history.