Three new films will bring the first generation of Parras to life

Directors Andrés Wood, Boris Quercia and Andrés Waissbluth paint portraits of Violeta, Eduardo and Roberto Parra, all important shapers of Chilean culture in the 20th century.

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The first family of Chilean folk art, four generations of Parras have now been a subject of fascination for many people, from Arica to Puerto Williams.

Documentaries, books and television specials have all been devoted to members of the illustrious clan, but now three new fictional films will depict the lives of some of the family’s best loved members: Roberto, Eduardo (or Lalo), and, of course, Violeta.

The matriarch of the “New Chilean Song” movement of the 1960s and the only Chilean with work included in the permanent collection of the Louvre, Violeta has, along with her contemporary Victor Jara, grown to symbolize the blossoming of Chilean folk culture in the decade immediately preceding the artistically repressive Pinochet years.

The new film from Andrés Wood, A Violeta se fue a los cielos (Violeta Has Gone To Heaven), is based on Angél Parra’s biography of his mother and currently in post-produciton. Starring Francisca Gavilán in the title roll, the film explores the life of Violeta Parra in an episodic fashion, jumping chronologically through various stages in her life. Wood hopes to have the film ready to take to the next Cannes Film Festival in May.

Director Quercia takes Violeta’s brother Roberto as the subject of his new fllm, Vida, fulgor y muerte de Don Roberto Parra Sandoval (The Life, Brilliance, And Death Of Don Roberto Parra Sandoval).

A work in progress for the last three years, Quercia’s film has been developed by the director in close collaboration with Parra’s daughter and window, and traces his life from the time of his childhood in Chillán in the 1920s, through the 1970s. “The idea is that Roberto’s life coincides with a period that  I call republican Chile and that has been lost forever,” Quercia told La Tercera.

In his new film, provisionally titled Hermanitos (Little Brothers), director Andrés Waissbluth documents the childhood of Roberto and his brother Eduardo, known popularly by the nickname Lalo. The story hinges on the period in the brothers’ young lives when they first became interested in the folk music of Chile, and particularly in cueca, the national dance.

“Five years ago I recorded a video with Lalo Parra and he told the story of his childhood. He told me I should make it a film. And you understand I couldn’t say no to Don Lalo,” Waissbluth told La Tercera.

These three films are just the latest in the long process of documenting the lives of these outstanding artists and promoters of Chilean culture. Today, as more and more young Chileans become interested in their national artistic traditions, many of which were interrupted for nearly two decades, the lives of the Parras are nothing short of an inspiration.