Frida Documentary: A Cinematic Journey by Gutiérrez

Frida by Gutiérrez | Zarastro Art | Frida Kahlo
Still image from the Frida documentary by Carla Gutiérrez. Source: Sundance Film Festival

Screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Carla Gutiérrez’s new documentary, Frida delves into Kahlo’s life, tracing her artistic evolution and engagement with her era. However, critics think that it falls short of its potential to explore the complex life of an icon. 

What sets Frida apart is its unique perspective, as it is told from Kahlo’s point of view, drawing from her illustrated diary, revealing letters, essays, and print interviews. Despite its well-meaning approach and devotion to its subject, the film follows a predominantly linear narrative, making it feel somewhat familiar.

While it successfully explores themes such as Kahlo’s self-fashioning and her marriage to Diego Rivera, it overlooks crucial historical and political contexts. Neglecting the backdrop of post-Revolution Mexico, the film fails to highlight Kahlo’s commitment to a new Mexico and her role beyond being Rivera’s wife.

The film does not do a good job of covering Kahlo’s political past, particularly her membership in the Communist Party and her complicated relationship with Leon Trotsky. It also leaves out crucial information, such as the possibility that Trotsky was assassinated.

While Gutiérrez claims to have extensively explored Kahlo’s archives, she also disregards the neo-colonial implications of Kahlo’s adoption of Tehuana dress and its connection to José Vasconcelos’s concept of la raza cósmica.

From a visual perspective, the documentary employs two primary styles: black-and-white archival photos and dynamic animated sequences inspired by Kahlo’s surrealist art. While the former feels somewhat drab and static, the latter adds a more expressive and dynamic element, effectively highlighting moments of heartache and tragedy in Kahlo’s life.

Another central issue of the film lies in its emphasis on Kahlo’s art and creative values without fully capturing the impressionistic imagination and fervor that made her work truly stunning.

Despite shortcomings, Frida shines in its depiction of Kahlo’s fierce and unwavering personality, exploring taboo topics and challenging societal norms. The documentary captures her contemptuous reflections on 1930s New York high society with humor and sharpness, revealing a rebellious spirit that defied the status quo.

Prime Video will release Frida on March 15, 2024.


Contact us

Fill in the form below to inquire about this artwork.

Join our newsletter and grab your free copy of Best Exhibitions Around the World in 2024.


Plus, continue to stay updated on the contemporary art world through a weekly digest of headlines and our own new articles!