Spain, Iceland, USA 2017

Synopsis

With depth, humour and pathos, LA CHANA celebrates the charisma and flair of a self-taught Gypsy flamenco dancer who in the 1960s-80s rose to international stardom and then suddenly vanished from the public eye at the height of her career. Peter Sellers saw her dance as a young woman and asked her to perform in the film THE BOBO in 1967. Hollywood beckoned, but that was not to be. In her baroque boudoir in Barcelona, LA CHANA continues to practice her art and reveals the reason her career came to such an abrupt end.
Filled with footage of spectacular flamenco dance and music, this film brings us under the skin and into the irrepressible spirit of this eccentric woman with an uncanny gift for rhythm who, despite all odds, enjoys a comeback in her late sixties.

Directors Statement

La Chana’s story highlights a number of topics that have both current relevance and universal appeal. As La Chana nears the end of her physical capability to dance, she needs to re-define herself. On her journey, she brings her audience close and challenges them to reflect on specific topics: aging, the imminent loss of something that defines you and that you love, acceptance and re-invention.
Meanwhile, the story of La Chana’s past highlights topics that have an important social relevance today. La Chana is giving us rare, intimate access to her Gitano world and how she lives and experiences it as a woman. Through her deeply personal story, we gain an idea of the role and treatment of Gypsy women in Spanish Gitano culture and what implications it has for a woman to suffer domestic abuse in a marginalized society.

In the film, we approach the topic of abuse very carefully, making sure that we don’t point fingers, make generalizations or put our protagonist in a risky situation. Our approach is to stay very close to La Chana’s individual, personal and emotional experience of domestic violence - her loneliness, helplessness, isolation and the feeling that she was stuck in a vicious circle where her own community was both her only support and her ‘prison warden’ that kept her locked inside a violent reality.
I believe that it’s very important to tell stories of women’s lives from all walks of life, and in this documentary, we have an amazing story of survival and empowerment through pure art and strength of character. For a change, it’s a story about a Gypsy woman, who through her own tragedy gives hope and encouragement to young women, globally, as well as in the Gitano and Roma communities, to fight for their dreams whatever they might be. My mission is not only to tell a unique story with universal appeal, but also to make sure we bring it to the audiences who will get most out of it. After all, empowerment through stories is the power of documentaries.

Biography

Lucija Stojevic was educated at the University of Edinburgh (Architectural Design) and Prague Film School
(Directing and Editing). She has independently produced over 30 short format documentaries for The Guardian, The New York Times and Global Post. Her work has also been displayed in the context of video art in exhibitions in Vienna and Graz (Austria), Screens of Barcelona/LOOP (Spain) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK). In 2014, she established Noon Films S.L. a production company focusing on creative documentaries in Barcelona, Spain. LA CHANA is her first feature-length documentary.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Lucija Stojevic

Written by : Lucija Stojevic

Produced by : Deirdre Towers, Susan Muska, Lucija Stojevic, Greta Olafsdottir

Director of Photography : Samuel Navarrete

Editor : Domi Parra

Composer : Ernesto Briceño

Sound Design : Alejandro Castillo

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Documentary Selection 2017