Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘La Singla’

Posted in Hot Docs 2023 by - May 02, 2023
Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘La Singla’

A Spanish woman, Helena Kaitanni, dances in front of a mirror. She balances her love of dance while moonlighting as a security guard and eventually, takes up a third ‘job’ as a researcher. The subject she’s researching is the reason she fell in love with dancing in the first place. That woman is La Singla, Paloma Zapata’s titular subject in her new documentary. She uses Helena as a stand in to unravel the mystery surrounding La Singla. Back in the 1960s, she was a girl dancing the flamenco, and can do so despite being hard of hearing.

Dance is a major component of La Singla, but it also unearths a lot of archive footage of her, including a video where she sees doctors to have normal hearing. This trove of footage, however, gets smaller as she turns 18, when she disappears out of this air. The documentary doesn’t exploit this disappearance but it does repeat that piece of information quite a bit. Helena talks to a German-Spanish dancer who tells her everything she already knows about Singla. This repetitive nature is worrisome. It’s as it there’s a roadblock to the forward momentum that documentaries like this need.

The dancer turned researcher eventually leaves her home city to go to Barcelona. Helena eventually talks to the members of the Romani community that knew of La Singla, who is, obviously, Romani. She gets closer and closer, eventually able to secure interviews with her family, which don’t have the organic feel that most interview segments in documentaries do. As I write this though, La Singla has a certain rhythm that lets its viewers feel the whirlwind lifestyle of a feral, talented child star. Whether or not Helena gets her answer to find La Singla, the documentary makes her journey worthwhile.

  • Release Date: 4/28/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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