The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo
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About the Film
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (premieres March 23, 2005 – check local listings) is an intimate biography of a woman who gracefully balanced a private life of illness and pain against a public persona that was flamboyant, irreverent and world-renowned. Kahlo was an eyewitness to a unique pairing of revolution and renaissance that defined the times in which she lived. Through the prism of her life and art, the film explores the ancient culture of Mexico; the Mexican Revolution; the wildfire of communism that burned through Latin America in the 1920s and '30s; the innovators in painting, photography, filmmaking, writing and poetry that congregated in Mexico City; and the revival of interest in popular culture for which Kahlo has become a symbol.

Kahlo is best known for dozens of self-portraits through which she tells the story of her dramatic life. She was severely injured in a bus accident at 18, and her paintings reflect the debilitating effects she endured for the rest of her life: 35 operations, body casts, metal corsets, constant pain and the inability to bear a child. Kahlo's work also reflects her passionate love affairs (including a brief one with Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky), and her turbulent marriage to Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera.

Award-winning filmmaker Amy Stechler of Daylight Films was granted unprecedented access to photographs, paintings, newsreels and home movies, many of which have never been published or broadcast. Stechler's research includes more than 20 interviews with principals in Kahlo's life, including Mexican authors Carlos Fuentes and Carlos Monsivais and Kahlo's principal biographer, Hayden Herrera.

"Three years ago, the only thing I knew about Frida Kahlo was that she was a painter who had a legendary, lifelong passion for another painter, and I assumed that he was a ravishing character," says Stechler. "Then I saw a newsreel clip of Diego Rivera painting a mural in Detroit. He was an ugly man with the face of a frog and narrow sloping shoulders, an enormous belly and tiny hands and feet. I became enthralled with the question: Who was this woman who adored him?"

The film was shot on location in Mexico where Kahlo lived and painted – at the Casa Azul, her beloved blue home and studio; Xochimilco, the city of floating gardens; Rivera's San Angel studio; and San Ildefonso, where Kahlo attended Mexico's famed school, the Preparatoria.

The musical score was created entirely with traditional Mexican and period music. Some comes directly from old field or studio recordings found in archives in the United States and Mexico. The rest was recorded for the film in Mexico by contemporary folk musicians.

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo is produced, directed and written by Amy Stechler, who co-produced, wrote and edited many of the early films of Ken Burns: “Brooklyn Bridge” (nominated for an Academy Award), “The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God” and “Huey Long.” Stechler also served as an editing consultant for “The Civil War”. She is president of Daylight Films. Maia Harris and Victor Zamudio-Taylor are the film's co-producers.

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