Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Queen of the Gypsies: A Portrait of Carmen Amaya 2003

Directed by Jocelyn Ajami

USA In English, French and Spanish with English subtitles
81 minutes Beta-SP / Colour and B&W

Director, Photography


Joshua Antell
Jocelyn Ajami


Domingo Alvarado


Vancouver 2003


“Dance aficionados will want to run not walk to see the extraordinary flamenco artist Carmen Amaya (1913–1963) in action… Ajami freely credits Carmen for having revolutionized the art: she introduced dazzling trouser-clad percussive footwork (hitherto the exclusive province of men), and reclaimed the signature dance-form for gypsies with her fiery leaps and impassioned whirls. Having lived and performed in the States and then Europe after leaving Spain during its Civil War, she ranked as an international superstar. Amaya’s electrifying performances are captured in excerpts from starring roles in Spanish-language films, specialty-turns in otherwise forgettable Hollywood outings and a rare showcase short.” — Ronnie Scheib, Variety.

“With an academic thoroughness and a besotted fan’s fervor, Ajami adroitly captures the life and legacy of the late revolutionary dancer… While Amaya’s rags-to-riches, naïf-to-artist journey is inspiring in its own right, it’s the abundant archival footage that really makes the film. Clips of Amaya in action are breathtaking.” — Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly