Trailer Released for Fernando Meirelles’ Climate Change Documentary “The Great Green Wall”

Fernando Meirelles is hitting a wall

The first trailer has been released for the climate change documentary The Great Green Wall, which is being executive-produced by the 63-year-old Brazilian film director, producer and screenwriter.

Fernando Meirelles

Fronted by Malian-French singer and activist Inna Modjaand backed by the United Nations, the film focuses on the ongoing Africa-led project to grow an 8,000km wall of trees and plants across the width of the continent. The initiative will stretch from Senegal to Djibouti and is meant to provide food and jobs to millions. 

The film, described as “Buena Vista Social Club meets Years of Living Dangerously, follows Modja across Africa as she assembles leading musicians and singers to record an album that captures the spirit of the Wall, which once completed will be the largest living structure on earth, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

The film is directed by Jared P. Scott, whose previous docs The Age of Consequences and Requiem for the American Dream debuted at HotDocsand the Tribeca Film Festival, respectively. 

Former BBC investigative journalist Sarah Macdonald, who won a BAFTA for her work at nightly news show Newsnight, produces for Make ProductionsAlexander Asen is executive producer for the UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification, which itself is a co-producer on the film.

Andy Garcia to Narrate the Documentary “Miss Angela” About 91-Year-Old Cuban Discovery Angela Alvarez

Andy Garcia is lending his voice to a special story…

The 62-year-old actor and musician will narrate Miss Angela, the working title of the feature documentary on Angela Alvarez, the 91-year-old Cuban singer-songwriter who had her lifetime’s work of songs discovered, and recently recorded her first album.

Andy Garcia

Filmmakers Paul Toogoodand Lloyd Stantoninterviewed Alvarez and her children about her life and recorded when she performed her music in a debut concert (on her 91st birthday) at Hollywood’s Avalon Theater, an event Garcia both played in the band and hosted.

The film follows the story of Alvarez’s flight from Cuba in the 1960’s and subsequent life as wife, mother and working woman who hid her childhood ambition to be a singer and songwriter. It was only when her grandson, composer Carlos José Alvarez, asked about the traditional Cuban folk songs she had been singing to generations of the family, she told him and unearthed a treasure trove of original songs.

Alvarez recorded her first album in collaboration with world-renowned Cuban musicians from Buena Vista Social Club and her grandson. So at the age of 90, Alvarez is finally living her dream.

“As a fanatical student of Cuban music it’s easy to recognize when you see someone that’s special, not only musically, but lyrically,” he said. “Angela Alvarez is a real discovery. I’m honored to be a part of it — to be asked to lend my support.”

The film charts Alvarez’s childhood in pre-revolutionary Cuba when she announced to her family she wanted to be a singer and songwriter which was expressly forbidden by her father and grandfather as an unsuitable career for a girl. So, she wrote songs in secret.

Their family became part of the Pedro Pan exodus where 14,500 unaccompanied children were spirited out of Cuba between 1960-62. It then took Alvarez four more long, frightening years to escape, and then reunite her family, finally settling down in the United States.

“This is a tale of second chances, where it is never too late to live your dreams,” said 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.”

The pinnacle of the film is a debut concert, with world-class Cuban musicians accompanying Alvarez on at the Avalon Theater.

Musicians who took part are Grammy winners Luis Conte, Jose AlvarezAlberto Salas, Ramon Stagnaro, and Justo Almario with Grammy nominated musicians Danilo Lozano, Dayren Santamaria and Roberto Rosario. Other musicians include Carlos Jose Alvarez, Jorge Sawa-Perez, Roque Garcia, Mariano Dugatkin, and Jessicca Brizuela.

The film is now in postproduction.

The Late Ferrer Among the Cuban Artists Going Global Following Sony-EGREM Licensing Agreement

The late Ibrahim Ferrer’s music is going global…

Sony Music Entertainment and the Havana-based EGREM (Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales) have reached a global licensing agreement to release more than 20,000 recorded tracks by the likes of Ferrer, the Afro-Cuban singer, musician and former member of the Buena Vista Social Club who passed away in 2005, Irakere, Los Van Van, Bola de Nieve and Omara Portuondo, among many others.

Ibrahim Ferrer

Egrem’s catalog, the most extensive catalog of Cuban music in the world, encompasses audio and audiovisual recordings produced since the 1960s.

Although some portions of the catalog have been licensed before by various labels throughout the world, this is the first time a multinational label has access to the entire stock of recordings for the entire world as part of a multi-year agreement.

“We are delighted to be partnering with EGREM to share for the first time one of the largest and most acclaimed catalogs of Cuban music with fans across the globe,” Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris said in a statement. “This landmark agreement will help expand international awareness and appreciation of Cuban culture, Cuba’s rich musical heritage and its many wonderful artists.”

Although the deal between EGREM and Sony had been in the works for more than two years, it was only signed September 15 in Havana by Afo Verde, Sony’s chairman and CEO for Latin America, Spain and Portugal, and EGREM managing director Mario Angel Escalona Serrano. Edgar Berger, Sony’s chairman and CEO, International, was on hand for the signing, which took place at Areíto Studio 101, the historic Havana studio where legendary Cuban and international artists have recorded since the 1940s.

“We see these agreements as an opportunity for the joint management of our catalog over the coming years,” said Escalona Serrano.

“We are working on the release of this treasure of Cuban music so it will be available on all possible music and video platforms for music lovers to enjoy as soon as possible,” said Verde.

“Sony Music is honored to bring this iconic music — representing over five decades of Cuban culture — to all corners of the world,” said Berger. “We are thrilled to introduce these extremely talented artists to the global audience they so richly deserve.”