10 May Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America will open the 2015 edition of Iberodocs
by Amaya Bañuelos
“Cantante is the one who can sing, cantor the one who must sing.” (Facundo Cabral)
Mercedes Sosa was known by many names like, “La Negra” (The Black One), “La Pachamama”, “La madre de América” (The Mother of America) or “La cantora de la Tierra” (The singer of the Earth). But was her singing the representative force of the people of Latin America that gave her the name of “The Voice of Latin America”. Throughout her life she referred to herself as “cantora” not “cantante”, this feeling epitomised in her very last album “Cantora” (2009). By doing so, she brought out the socio-political aspect the word cantor carries, someone who gives voice to their own people and nation.
Director Rodrigo H. Vila, who had already dedicated a film to the artist, the 2009 documentary Mercedes Sosa, Cantora un viaje íntimo, pays a final tribute to the famous tucumana. Vila counts with Mercedes Sosa’s son Fabián Matus who acts as a guide and interviewer but also let us stay close to the person that Mercedes Sosa was. By using historical footage, the director traces back the myth of the artist and uses it alongside the testimonies of either those who collaborated with her or were influenced by her music.
The film explores the many identities that made her the legendary figure she was in life, and helps us understand why her music continues to exert a fascination.
As an exponent of the Nuevo Cancionero Movement, she helped innovating the folk music, blurring the lines between different music genres. Her natural curiosity led her to collaborate with artists of very different styles, for example, hip-hop singer René Pérez of Calle 13. She also retrieved and made popular many Latin American artists, such as Chilean folk artist Violeta Parra. And her political exile helped her spread Latin American folk music worldwide. But overall she was a cantora, her songs empowering a whole generation who fought against dictatorships not only in Latin America but also in Franco’s Spain.
‘Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America’ which will open the 2015 edition of Iberodocs at Filmhouse, has participated in numerous film festivals. It won the Audience Award both at the 23rd Biarritz International Festival of Latin American Cinema and at the 5th Festival International du Cinema d’Argel as well as the Best Documentary Award at the Cóndor de Plata 2014 in Argentina.