The Huesca International Film Festival presented the Aragonese actress and singer-songwriter Raquel Meller with the documentary prepared by the Aragonese director Vicky Calavia. Cinema and music go hand in hand more than ever to offer a choral vision of this woman who became nationally and internationally famous and yet now forgotten.
The first minutes of the film Insumisa y divina have been screen in the Huesca event on the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Francisca Marqués López, the real name of Raquel Meller, in the space dedicated by the Festival for the presentation of projects. As Vicky Calavia pointed out, “her life was always surrounded by a mystery that she fed herself, she invented her own character”, but there is no doubt that she elevated the cuplé genre to the category of art and exported it to rest of the world.
On the most violet day of the Festival, which is sponsored by the Aragonese Women’s Institute (IAM), they have referred to her as a feminist of that time “a woman well ahead of her time, freed from social ties and conventions”, as highlighted Calavia herself, who added that “there are many Raquel Mellers” in this work.
The documentary provides a contemporary vision “and I wanted it to be in the first person”. There is a sentence from Raquel Meller herself which moves all those who have approached her figure: “Nobody loves me”, a striking statement from someone who was a phenomenon and a myth of his time who triumphed wherever she went and even admired by Charles Chaplin.
More than fifteen years ago, the filmmaker Vicky Calavia already thought about delving into the lights and shadows of this artist whose “overwhelming” and “seductive” personality fascinated her. It was in 2019 when she began to investigate supported by all the documentation and publications that the biographer Javier Barreiro treasures and the archives of the Tarazona City Council and the Spanish Film Library. She did part of the filming, during the pandemic and she has also recorded a version of La Violetera by La Shica.
Raquell Meller (Tarazona, 1888-1962) made her grand debut at the Teatro Arnau in Barcelona in 1911 and she really became popular with La violetera and El relicario. She came to sell more records than Carlos Gardel, this is even more surprising if you take into account her humble origins, the daughter of a blacksmith while her mother ran a grocery store. In the presentation that took place at Ultramarinos La Confianza, Vicky Calavia ventured to say that, as far as Spanish music is concerned, she “could only be compared with Rosalía today”.