La Chana by Lucija Stojevic
La Chana by Lucija Stojevic

La Chana by Lucija Stojevic has won the VPRO IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam Audience Award. La Chana is a portrait of flamenco queen ‘La Chana’, who returns to the stage after a 23-year absence.

The director of La Chana, Lucija Stojevic, was not present to collect the VPRO IDFA Audience Award (€ 5,000) in person, but thanked the audience in a video message.

“I was born to dance. I would lay awake all night long, repeating the rhythms in my head until they became a part of me.” -La Chana

Antonia Santiago Amador, known as La Chana, is 67 years old. She is helped onto an empty stage and settles into her chair with difficulty. Then her feet begin to move. With closed eyes, she combines intricate rhythms at an ever-faster pace. Her body and soul finally succumb to the beat. She comes alive.

In the 1960s and 1970s La Chana was one of the biggest stars in the flamenco world. The self-taught Gypsy dancer rose to the scene at the height of the Golden Era of flamenco, surprising audiences worldwide with a style that was innovative: rhythmic combinations that were nontraditional and a speed, an expression and a power while dancing that were unprecedented. Her shows were advertised on larger-than-life sized billboards across Madrid. Peter Sellers, with whom she features in the film The Bobo (1967) invited her to Hollywood. But she didn’t go. Instead, at the zenith of her career, she suddenly disappeared from the scene.

As we follow the backstage drama leading to La Chana’s final seated performance in 2013, she unravels her turbulent life story and reveals the secret that cut short her promising career: for 18 years she was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her first husband.

La Chana isn’t about regret for a life that could have been but about La Chana’s strength to keep overcoming difficult life circumstances that are. It’s a story about the process and power of creation, about love, friendship and re-invention. La Chana takes us deep into the essence of her passion and reveals a poetic and inspiring story that crystallizes the inevitable clashes between her life’s extremes and contradictions; between the artist on stage and the woman behind the scenes.

La Chana (Spain-Iceland-USA) led the audience award rankings from the start of the festival.

Audience Favorites

Final scores.

1 La Chana 9,21
2 Life, Animated 9,20
3 The Eagle Huntress 9,14
4 Singing with Angry Bird 9,11
5 Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? 9,11
6 The Return 9,01
7 Prison Sisters 9,00
8 Nowhere to Hide 8,99
9 Planeta Petrila 8,96
10 Raving Iran 8,94
11 A Bastard Child 8,94
12 Miss Kiet’s Children 8,89
13 Maya Angelou And Still I Rise 8,89
14 The Wait 8,88
15 Hillsborough 8,88
16 The Passing Years 8,86
17 Shalom Italia 8,78
18 4.1 Miles 8,76
19 The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America 8,73
20 An Insignificant Man 8,72
21 Waiting for Giraffes 8,70
22 Still Tomorrow 8,66
23 Dil Leyla 8,65
24 The Grown-Ups 8,58
25 Reset 8,58
26 Death in the Terminal 8,57
27 Radio Kobanî 8,57
28 In loco parentis 8,57
29 House Call 8,57
30 Eat That Question – Frank Zappa in His Own Words 8,55
31 Gaza Surf Club 8,55
32 Weiner 8,54
33 Coco Cabasa 8,54
34 Where You’re Meant to Be 8,51
35 Plastic China 8,48
36 Forever Pure 8,46
37 The Borneo Case 8,41
38 The Offended 8,40
39 Delicate Balance 8,40
40 A Young Girl in Her Nineties 8,40
41 Crowley – Every Cowboy Needs His Horse 8,40
42 My Father and My Mother 8,39
43 Hissein Habré, a Chadian Tragedy 8,38
44 Who We Were 8,37
45 Those Who Jump 8,37
46 The Opposition 8,36
47 My Friend, Yaniv 8,34
48 All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone 8,33
49 The European 8,32
50 Amazona 8,31

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