‘Frida’ director Carla Gutiérrez on her longtime love of the iconic artist

Amazon Studios

Carla Gutiérrez loved Frida Kahlo long before she decided to direct a documentary about her life.

That documentary, Frida, arrives Thursday on Prime Video. It features the first Kahlo painting Gutiérrez ever saw – the one that ignited her love for the iconic artist.

Gutiérrez told ABC Audio she was flipping through an art book while she was in college when she suddenly saw her own life experience reflected back on the page. It was a self-portrait of Kahlo, standing between the United States and Mexico.

“I was a new immigrant, and I was just stepping into this new world of the United States, having different opinions about this new world, but really missing home and missing my culture and missing my loved ones,” Gutiérrez said. “I just saw that painting that I really felt like she captured my feelings, and she captured my experience. So, the obsession began there.”

From that moment on, Gutiérrez learned everything about Kahlo that she could, reading every book and studying every painting. She says she knew “all the details of her life as academics knew it.” She didn’t think she could learn more, but, after she started looking at those life details from Kahlo’s point of view while making her film, she made new discoveries.

“I was able to really hear the fragility of this person dealing with difficult things in her writings. I was able to also get a true sense of her sense of humor and how sarcastic she was,” Gutiérrez said. “I really got to sense her as a human being in a way that I hadn’t been able to with so much intimacy before. And that’s what I really wanted to bring into the film – for other people to have that experience as well.”

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