Gabriela Mistral was the first and only Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in 1889, she was a poet, educator and ambassador. I had actually heard of her: when I was in Santiago there was an exhibition about her in the library across the road, and then when I went to their cultural centre, I found that it was named after her.
But I think that Latin American audiences must know MUCH more about her, because this documentary about her relationship with her younger lover Doris Dana (who, when she was younger, was a dead ringer for Katherine Hepburn) was very light on details. Mainly it was about Doris Dana’s American niece, who ended up being the custodian of all Gabriela Mistral’s papers that had previously gone to Doris Dana. Doris intended sorting them out and publishing them but died before she did so…and there’s so much of the stuff that Doris Dana’s young niece may do the same thing. So many boxes; so much paper!! As a documentary, film shots of opening boxes and shuffling through papers only gets you so far. Also there were crackly old tape recordings of Gabriela and Doris talking, once Gabriela was getting old and crotchetty.
Still, Steve and I had a good chat about celebrity, and muses, and translated poetry, even if the documentary itself was rather lacklustre and frankly, boring. It was screened by Filmoteca, who present a Spanish and Latin American film every month through ACMI. It was in Spanish with English subtitles (unlike the trailer I have posted above).