Queen of the Gypsies: A Portrait of Carmen Amaya | Chicago Reader

Queen of the Gypsies: A Portrait of Carmen Amaya

One of the great stars of flamenco dance, Spanish Gypsy Carmen Amaya (1913-63) got her start as a teenage street performer with her guitarist father in a poor quarter of Barcelona; she quickly became a sensation in the cafes and spent the rest of her life supporting an extended family that selfishly discouraged her from marrying. This 2002 Spanish documentary sketches out her private life, including her intimate relationships with two of her guitar accompanists (lover Sabicas and husband Juan Antonio Aguero), but the performance clips, gleaned mostly from Spanish and American movies of the 30s and 40s, are the real show here, revealing a furiously disciplined performer whose early cafe audiences were so excited by her that they would break the crockery. Jocelyn Ajami directed. In English and subtitled Spanish. 81 min.

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