The biopic documentary, directed and produced by Ana Sofia Fonseca, a former Portuguese journalist, follows the great Cape Verdean singer on a daily basis off stage and covers all the periods of an eventful life.
How did Cesaria Evora, a melancholic, alcoholic and depressive singer, emerge from her rut to become a world star? A documentary film, in theaters Wednesday, lifts the veil on the Cape Verdean artist.
Cesaria Evora, the barefoot divadirected and produced by Ana Sofia Fonseca, a former Portuguese journalist, follows the singer on a daily basis outside the stage and addresses all the periods of an eventful life which ended in December 2011.
The film begins in 2003, during the recording of Voz d’Amor, an album which will be crowned with a Grammy Award in the United States. Cesaria Evora is then at the height of a glory which fell on her late and miraculously. “My albums sell everywhere», She says in one of the numerous archival documents, most of them unpublished and private, which form the framework of this feature film punctuated by her songs.
From the next sequence, we go back to August 1991. The woman who was nicknamed Cize has just turned 50. The reputation of this vibrant and poignant interpreter of morna, the blues of Cape Verde, is barely beginning to extend beyond the framework of this archipelago lost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, volcanic and beaten by the winds. “She has a unique voice, rooted in bare territory, that comes from the guts“, says journalist Bouziane Daoudi, who came to interview her in the dilapidated two-room apartment where she still lives, barely two months before the release of Mar Azulthe album that will propel her.
Read alsoCesaria Evora, barefoot glory
Twelve years separate these two sequences, during which Cesaria Evora went from the status of an outsider, singing from time to time at the Porto Grand Hotel in Mindelo to earn enough to pay for a gl of whiskey, to that of an international star. Mar Azul, Little country, Soda… His songs and his personality will touch millions of people.
Ana Sofia Fonseca goes back and forth in space and time, places her journey in its historical and social context, to try to understand it.
From Los Angeles to a wasteland in Sao Vicente, via Havana, the director sets out to discover a Cesaria Evora who is not only the singer appearing barefoot on the world’s major stages. “I find it much more interesting to know someone’s story without necessarily following the traditional biography but with a richer narrative structure“, she explains.
To avoid making the story heavier, another choice was not to have the people giving their testimonies appear on screen. They approach with modesty but straightforwardly the singer’s demons, her alcoholism, her painful youth, her phases of depression or weariness, but also her generosity. “Cesaria’s strength is her human complexity», Says the filmmaker. “We talk about women, in the sense that I believe it is important to know women to better understand the voice“.
The film shows that she remained herself until the end, without fame affecting her authenticity. Without forgetting his attachment to his “Little country“. “I am from Mindelo, this is my land, my roots», she says again in a film in which the landscapes of Sao Vicente constitute the backdrop.
But above all, Cesaria wanted to be a free woman. “The first album I recorded in France was called The barefoot diva. It was a good title because I never liked shoes», she says at the beginning of the film. A film incipit which perfectly sums up the thread of his exceptional destiny.