ANDY GARCIA JOINS FILM ON REMARKABLE 91-YEAR-OLD ‘NEW’ CUBAN-AMERICAN SINGER/SONGWRITER ANGELA ALVAREZ

An authentic new voice has been revealed. If you’ve never heard of Angela Alvarez that’s because the 91 year old Cuban-American has just had her lifetime’s work of songs discovered. Fellow Cuban-American and refugee, actor ANDY GARCIA narrates (and plays in her band!) the extraordinary and inspiring story of her flight from Cuba in the 1960’s and subsequent ‘ordinary’ life as wife, mother and working woman who hid her childhood ambition to be a singer and songwriter. Only when her Grandson, Carlos Alvarez, now a successful composer in Hollywood, asked about the ‘traditional’ Cuban folk songs she had been singing to generations of the family, did he unearth a catalogue of original songs, charting her exceptional life. Now with the music recorded by world renowned Cuban musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club and Grammy award winners, 91 year old Angela Alvarez is ready to start her career.

An original documentary feature of her life by Paul Toogood & Lloyd Stanton (Dying Laughing, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, Wizard’s Way) is currently in post-production. Working titled ‘Miss Angela’ the film charts Angela’s childhood in pre-revolutionary Cuba when she announced to her family she wanted to be a singer and songwriter. This was expressly forbidden by her Father and later husband as unsuitable. Angela remained obedient but continued writing in private. She had four children and then the world turned upside down. For Angela and her family, the Castro revolution quickly turned from emancipation to repression, and when the schools were closed, and threats of children being removed from parents to be raised in Leninist-Marxist education camps, the Alvarez family decided they had to get out.

Waiting to get on the plane at Havana airport with her children, Angela’s visa was suddenly refused. Told she could travel the next day Angela made the agonizing decision to send her children ahead, while they could, and then catch up. As the days passed and it became clear she wouldn’t join them soon the children were taken in by Operation Pedro Pan. The extraordinary and little-known exodus of 14,500 unaccompanied Cuban children looked after by the Catholic Church between 1960-1962. It took Angela over two long, frightening years to escape Cuba, get to her children at an orphanage in Pueblo Colorado and then reunite the whole family. They finally settled down in the US.

The chapters of Angela’s life are marked by beautiful songs that chronicle the extreme highs and lows of her 75-year musical journey.

Alvarez’s wonderful and uplifting story immediately attracted filmmakers Paul Toogood and Lloyd Stanton, “This is a tale of second chances, where it is never too late to live your dreams,” stated Toogood. “It’s the story of a strong woman, a refugee, who fought to make her family safe and a story about the power of music.”

“Angela’s songs resonate across the decades; her voice is strong and still has so much to say. Her spirit is so vital and youthful it puts us all to shame. Her music and her life speak about overcoming the everyday subjugation of women, overcoming the stigma of being an outcast and how art can help ease the pain of life.” says Stanton.

Andy Garcia who hosted the live show, played in the band, was interviewed for and narrates the film adds, “As a fanatical student of Cuban music it’s easy to recognize when you see someone that’s special, not only musically, but lyrically. Angela Alvarez is a real discovery. I’m honored to be a part of it – to be asked to lend my support.”

The filmmakers spent time interviewing Angela, her surviving children and the significant people in her life – including working with another Alvarez grandson, Patrick, to comb through hours of family video footage – and finally recording the pinnacle of Angela’s musical life (so far!) when she performed her music in a debut concert, on her 91st birthday, at the historical Avalon Theater in Hollywood.

Supported by all-star band of Buena Vista Social Club and Grammy winning musicians, including LUIS CONTE, ALBERTO SALAS, JORGE SAWA-PEREZ, RAMÓN STAGNARO and JUSTO ALMARIO

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