WestEnd Films and Cinephil are teaming up for a feature documentary on the late Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora.
Directed by Portuguese filmmaker Ana Sofia Fonseca, the film — simply titled “Cesária Évora” — is described as a multifaceted portrait of the singer, who “leveraged her international fame to empower her community” on the African island of São Vicente, which is part of the Cape Verde archipelago. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW, with WestEnd and Cinephil repping worldwide rights.
The two companies recently partnered on “Afghanistan,” which was announced during the 2021 American Film Market.
Grammy winner Évora, who died at the age of 70 in 2011, rose to international fame in the mid ‘90s with her melancholic morna ballads thanks to the tireless work of her manager José da Silva, who took her from a Lisbon club to world stages like the Hollywood Bowl. Never before-seen footage unearthed by director Fonseca will show the full picture behind the world music star.
The film features archival material from which Évora emerges as a de facto community leader, who fed and sheltered those in need on the impoverished islands that drove many of its people to emigrate looking for a better life.
In addition to collaborating with the likes of Cuban star singer Compay Segundo, Bonnie Raitt and Caetano Veloso, Évora was also a female African powerhouse who became a role model for a new generation of women on Cape Verde, including her granddaughter, Janete.
“My grandmother broke down all the barriers imposed on the women of her time. Her freedom was a true act of rebellion,” said Janete Évora. “Without knowing the expression ‘female empowerment’ and without this fight being on the agenda, she always defended women’s rights through her way of life. Even today in Cabo Verde she is a reference on this issue.”
WestEnd Films managing director Maya Amsellem said: “Cesária touched people all around the world with her music, despite having only risen to fame at the age of 50 — something that is hard to imagine happening today. We know the film will appeal to both Cesária’s existing loyal fanbase and as well as new, younger audiences who will have the opportunity to learn about her. We are proud to represent this film together with our partners from Cinephil and to bring the story of an incredible woman to the screen.”
Director and executive producer Fonseca negotiated the deal with WestEnd Films/Cinephil.
“Cinephil and WestEnd Films dove into this project wholeheartedly,” said Fonseca. “The talent of these companies is recognized by us all, not in the least with their triple Oscar nominated ‘Flee.’ I believe they can do even more for documentaries and for cinema as the right partners to bring Cesária’s story to the world.”
Check out the film’s official poster below: