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Portrait of an Artist
Frida Kahlo (1983)

VHS Version Produced By: RM Arts/Hershon Guerra/WDR Production (1983)
DVD Version Produced By:
Art Haus Musik/Eila Hershon & Roberto Guerra (2009)
Narrated By:
Sada Thompson (Commentary by Hayden Herrera)
Run Time: 62 min
Language: VHS: English DVD: English, German, French, Spanish


This award-winning documentary (Montreal International Festival of Films - Best Biography of an Artist) provides a stirring look at the life and times of Mexico's most famous woman painter, Frida Kahlo. Although the film is old, with simple editing techniques, it eloquently portrays the artist's life in the famous "Blue House" outside of Mexico City that she shared with her husband, the famous muralist and painter Diego Rivera. A near fatal bus accident, years of traumatic surgery, and endless heartache left Frida Kahlo devastated, relentlessly transferring her physical and emotional pain to the canvas. Readings from her diaries, archival photographs, and film footage offer an intimate portrait of one of the most astonishing figures of the twentieth century. Narrated by Sada Thompson and commentary written by Hayden Herrera, this documentary explores Kahlo as the center of the Mexican renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. Not just as an artist, but as a tragic figure as it follows her painting career, her growing interest in politics and her turbulent relationship with her husband, Diego.

My Opinion:

This film provides an excellent overview of her artwork, explaining her choice of subject matter in detail. A great "Introduction to Frida Kahlo" film. On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate this documentary an "8". This documentary is now available on DVD from "ART HAUS MUSIK" in English, French, German and Spanish under the title "Frida Kahlo - Art Documentary" (ISBN: 9783939873167) .

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Great Women Artists
Frida Kahlo (2001)

Film Produced By: Kultur International Films, Inc
Run Time: 45 min
Language: English


From the Back Cover:

Frida Kahlo began to paint in 1925 while recovering from a streetcar accident that left her permanently disabled. Many of her 200 paintings, drawings and sketches are directly relate to her experiences with physical and emotional pain. They also chronicle her turbulent relationship with her womanizing husband, Diego Rivera. During her lifetime, Kahlo did not enjoy the same level of recognition as the great artists of Mexican muralism; Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros. However, today Kahlo's work is critically and monetarily as prized as that of her male peers, sometimes more so.

Comments From a Viewer:

Kultur's video takes us on a journey of exploration in showing us how Frida emerged as a painter with her own unique style. The film's narrator takes us on a chronological tour of Frida's paintings and life experiences from 1925 to 1954. You see her early attempts of pencil sketches, stream of consciousness paintings, frescoes and her narrative pictures. Your eyes are assaulted with her bold use of color, her sexual depiction of fruit that tells more then you see, and even Frida herself make herself into both male and female.

This video has done an excellent job in showing you the finest of this artist's work. She is inspiring but at times gazing at her works is just too much to bear. Your eyes may draw away but then end up being hypnotized by the work of Frida who draws you to her in death as well as life. Indulge yourself in meditating and reflecting over the message that Frida gives to you.

My Opinion:

The narration in this documentary is mostly a biography of Kahlo's life. Although several of her paintings are shown, they are not discussed in great detail. On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate this documentary a "6". I prefer the PSB special "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" or "Portrait of an Artist".

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The Life and Death of
Frida Kahlo (1966)

Film Produced By: Karen and David Crommie
Starring: Friends and Associates of Frida Kahlo
Run Time: 40 min
Language: English (Some Spanish with Subtitles)


This is the extraordinary film that started it all: the original documentary that brought Frida Kahlo out from under the shadow of her husband, Diego Rivera, and into the glare of world recognition. Frida was flamboyant, outrageous, obsessed with the child she couldn't have and, above all, an artist who uniquely captured her life and emotions on canvas. Narrated by the eleven people who knew her best, the film traces a life that wavered on the cutting edge of art and politics during the 1930s. This film premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1966 and was later shown nation wide in the early seventies. The original 16mm film is now available on video cassette and DVD but only directly from the film's producers:

Karen & David Crommie
628 Ashbury St.
San Francisco, CA 94117






Frida - Naturaleza Viva

Produced By: Clasa World-wide Films (1984)
Starring: Ofelia Medina as Frida and Juan Jose Gurrola as Diego
Run Time: 108 min
Language: Spanish with English Subtitles


This is the original full-length movie of the life of Frida Kahlo. The film was produced in Mexico and is said to be "The True Story"…an extraordinary realization by Director Paul Leduc of the life of Frida Kahlo, the most admired Mexican painter in the world. In this drama, Frida's life story is told in surreal deathbed flashbacks resembling her haunting paintings. The actress Ofelia Medina, who portrays Kahlo, bears not only an uncanny resemblance, but shares her mannerisms, her dignity and her feverish passion. Through Frida's eyes we get to know her relationship with the great muralist Diego Rivera, the Russian thinker Leon Trotsky and the intellectual and the artistic life of Mexico at the end of the 1940's. The main fault of this film is the lack of dialogue, so, if you are not already familiar with Frida Kahlo's life, it will be difficult to understand the plot.

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The Life and Times
of Frida Kahlo

Produced By: PBS Home Video Special (2005)
Starring: Lila Downs (Voice of Frida Kahlo); Rita Moreno (Narrator)
Run Time: 90 min
Language: English (Some Spanish with subtitles)


Frida Kahlo was more than a great painter: She was at times a socialist, a communist, and a revolutionary. This documentary presents her extraordinary life as a reflection of her cultural history, her art and the times in which she lived. The film combines Kahlo's artwork with photographs, archival films and interviews.

This documentary 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, this documentary 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.

My Opinion:

This film is a great introduction into the life and art of Frida Kahlo. If you're just getting to know her, then this film is a great "Introduction to Frida Kahlo - 101" course. I highly recommend this documentary….it's the best I've seen. It presents the best balance of her life story and her art. The numerous photos and home-movie clips are priceless. On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate this documentary a "9". If some, or even just one, of the movie clips was a "talkie" I'd give it a "10+".








Produced By: Miramax Home Entertainment (2003)
Starring: Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera
Run Time: 123 min
Language: English or French (with or without Spanish subtitles)


Nominated for six 2002 Academy Awards, including Salma Hayek for Best Actress, "Frida" is the triumphant motion picture about the life of Mexico's most famous woman artist...Frida Kahlo. This film is an excellent introduction to Frida Kaho... her life and her turbulent marriage to the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

My Opinion:

This biographical movie is based on books written by Hayden Herrera, a well known author and authority on Frida Kahlo. Some critics of the film, especially those in the Hispanic community, criticized the film because it focused too much on the dark and negative side of Frida's life and not enough on "Frida the Artist". If you're looking for a film about her paintings this is not it. One of the other documentaries is a better choice.

Until I saw this movie I had no idea who Frida Kahlo was….had never heard of her. After seeing this film I immediately became a HUGE Frida Kahlo fan. What I like most about her paintings is that they are not paintings of what she saw, but expressions of her inter most thoughts and emotions. Her paintings are a pictorial diary of her turbulent, painful, and emotional life. Watch it and judge for yourself. I rate this movie a "9+".

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La Cinta Que Envuelve Una Bomba
(The Ribbon That Ties the Bomb)

Produced By: Estudios Xystus (2003)
Starring: Andrea Ferrari as the voice of Frida
Run Time: 60 min
Language: Spanish (with or without English subtitles)


Using rare, never-before-seen footage, family interviews, and photographs, this documentary explores the intimate details of the life of Frida Kahlo. This includes her turbulent relationship with Diego Rivera, her scandalous lesbian affairs, and the mastering of the art about her anguished life that made her famous.

Directed by Jesus Muñoz Delgado, with narration by Jose Lavat, the voice of Frida is Andrea Ferrari, and original music by Eugenio Tussaint. Among the people who are interviewed in this documentary are biographers Martha Zamora and Hayden Herrera, psychologist Anando Almazan, historians Teresa del Conde, and Olivier Debroise, journalist Ana Cecilia Trevino, and painter (and former Khalo student) Arturo Garcia Bustos.

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Available only on DVD.


Biography - Frida Kahlo

Produced By: A&E Home Video (2005)
Run Time: 50 min
Language: English


From her birth in the ""Blue House"" to her death just 47 years later, BIOGRAPHY® explores the remarkable life of Frida Kahlo. See how she began to paint while convalescing from a horrific accident, and how she suffered from the consequences of her injuries throughout her life. See famed collections of her work, and hear from the people who knew her best, and those she inspired.

My Opinion:

This is a very comprehensive video biography of Kahlo's life. Her story is told using vintage still photographs and priceless B/W home movie clips. Also included are on camera interviews with those who knew her best; family members and former students, and those who have written books about her: Hayden Herrera, Martha Zamora and Raquel Tibol. If you're looking for an in-depth discussion of her art you won't find it in this documentary…very little is said about her paintings. On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate this documentary a 6.

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Frida Kahlo (16mm Film)

Produced By: Lola Alvarez Bravo, Jorge Hernández Campos
and Raúl Abarca (1951)
Starring: Frida Kahlo


During the 1940s and 1950s, Frida Kahlo posed for numerous photos taken by well known Mexican still photographers…one of them was Lola Álvarez Bravo. In 1951, Bravo decided to experiment with motion pictures. She and two friends, Raúl Abarca and Jorge Hernández Campos, embarked upon a project to produce a motion picture staring Frida Kahlo. Armed with only an old 16mm camera, they began filming at the Blue House in Coyoacán. Filming continued every day for a week until Frida's health no longer permitted her to appear. Bravo, feeling guilty that she may have over exerted Kahlo, decided to scrap the project.

Not a lot is known about this film. Some say that also in the film was a young female actress or companion, and a boy who represented the son that Kahlo never had. It is thought that this footage was to be a segment of a much larger Bravo production: "Remembrances of Mexico's Belle Époque" (Remembrances of Mexico's Beautiful Era).

Some time later in the 1960s, Bravo lent the Kahlo footage to someone to use in a television program. It was never returned and never seen again. It's unclear if the footage ever got used for the television production. Fragments of the film were found and shown at two 1993 Kahlo exhibitions: Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany, March 6-May 23, 1993 and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, June 6-August 29, 1993.

My Opinion:

The best collection of "home movies" of Frida and Diego are shown in the PBS documentary "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" available now on DVD. The film footage in this documentary may be that taken by Lola Bravo but I have not been able to confirm that. Unfortunately, the film clips are all "silent movies". As yet I know of no film footage with sound that would allow us to hear Frida's voice. If anyone knows of any such footage please email me (Mike). Send Email.


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