2014 SXSW Review: QUE CARAMBA ES LA VIDA

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Another entry in the SXSW 24 Beats per Second category, this music documentary follows the lives of mariachis in Mexico. These are not just any mariachis, though. These are ladies who have struggled and faced some adversity in a music world dominated by men. Mariachi songs traditionally celebrate life, love, loss and heartbreak from a male perspective. The brash women in this film wish to break barriers and have their voices heard despite detractors who feel their tradition threatened by a female presence. Director Doris Dorrie offers an intimate look at a few generations of mariachi women who have not only struggled to make livings out of this difficult work, but have had to prove themselves to their male contemporaries.

This documentary provides an intimate look at women whose passion for their music drives them and defines them.  I found it entertaining and enriching to hear a group of venerable women mariachis talk about the many years they have performed and all of the various obstacles they had to face. When it came to the younger women’s stories though, there is much talk about the chauvinism they face on the job, but this is never actually shown on screen. The absence of this look at the real conflict that modern day women mariachis face would have made the point of this film that much more powerful. Nevertheless, this film is an interesting celebration of women with the strength to stand tall and proud and challenge conventions.

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