Frida Kahlo documentary
Frida Kahlo in 1933 pictured in Frida courtesy of Prime Video

Carla Gutiérrez’s Frida Kahlo documentary, Frida, allows the famous Mexican artist to tell her gloriously passionate life story in her own words.

The documentary draws on Kahlo’s personal diaries, letters, and essays to tell her life story, with narration by voice actress Fernanda Echevarría del Rivero. Combining archival footage, photographs, and animations of 48 of Kahlo’s paintings and 13 illustrations from her diary, the result is a gorgeous homage to one of the most beloved artists of the 20th century.

Frida Kahlo In Her Own Words

Frida premiered in January at Sundance, where Gutiérrez made her feature directorial debut. Known for her extensive work as an editor on films like the Ruth Bader Ginsberg doc RGB and Netflix’s Pray Away, the director-editor shows viewers Kahlo’s real-life personality and wickedly funny side.

“Her sense of humor was a bit of a surprise as I was reading her letters. And also, she had a really sharp tongue. So it was really kind of fun to be able to allow her to express herself,” Gutiérrez told MovieMaker.

“We were always guided by the theme that we were going for, which is a woman that didn’t contain her own voice. For example, for the childhood segments, it was really important for me to create this picture of this girl that was already pushing against boundaries, and that had a really strong voice and a very passionate, intense relationship with the world that she was seeing around her, inspired by her relationship with her father.”

Frida Kahlo in 1940 pictured in Frida courtesy of Prime Video.

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Frida also includes narration of first-person accounts from the people closest to Kahlo, like her husband, fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and uses only archival footage and Kahlo’s own art to bring their words to life.

“The concept for the animation was to bring Frida’s art into a cinematic space. I mean, we wanted to be respectful and really kind of pay attention to the original intent of the art. We never brought outside elements,” Gutiérrez said.

“What we did is that we took the elements in the painting themselves, and then we wanted the viewer to immerse in that painting and then to kind of travel through it and pay special attention to the emotions.”

Gutiérrez also noted that it was important to her that the Frida crew be entirely Latinx, which she accomplished, including key Mexican collaborators like composer Víctor Hernández Stumpfhauser, the entire animation team lead by Renata Galindo and Sofía Cázares, and co-producer and lead archival producer Adrián Gutiérrez. Sound mix and color were also done in Mexico at Schaeffer Post Creative and Splendor Omnia Studios.

Frida is produced by Imagine Entertainment and TIME Studios in association with Storyville Films. Producers include Katia Maguire, Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes, Loren Hammonds, and Alexandra Johnes. Executive producers include Julie Cohen, Betsy West, Lynne Benioff, Alexa Conway, Meredith Kaulfers, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

Frida is now streaming on Prime Video.

Main Image: Frida Kahlo in 1933 pictured in Frida courtesy of Prime Video