May 7, 2019
Vinyl Factory Films
How a censored music became the heartbeat of resistance and independence.
In the spring of 1968, a cargo vessel set sail from Baltimore bound for Rio De Janeiro with a shipment of musical instruments from synth and keyboard manufacturers like Moog, Farfisa, Hammond and Korg. Its final destination was the EMSE Exhibition – the first major expo of electronic instruments in South America. The shipment never arrived.
Instead, as the story goes, the ship washed ashore on the Sao Nicolau island of Cabo Verde, spilling its precious cargo onto the beach. Under the instruction of anti-colonial leader Amílcar Cabral, the synths found their way to churches and schools, where they were hidden from the eyes and ears of the Portuguese regime.
In these spaces, a style of music emerged that combined Cabo Verde’s tradition Mornas, Coladeras and highly danceable Funaná rhythms with a cosmic, joyous and defiant electricity. This new sound was censored by the regime and, as a result, came to define Cabo Verde’s fight for independence, which was ultimately achieved peacefully in 1975.
Half myth, half reality, the music and its story is captured in Analog Africa’s 2016 compilation Space Echo – The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed, which featured 15 tracks, 8 of which were recorded with the backing of the band Voz de Cabo Verde, lead by Paulino Vieira.
Film-maker Joe Fletcher picks up the journey for this new hybrid documentary – exploring both the mythical and the political resonance of Funaná. As he describes:
“At its heart it is a story of the raw, transformative power of music, of different worlds colliding against the brutal backdrop of war. By banning and torturing those caught playing Funaná, the Portuguese clearly recognised the power the music possessed, and the emotions it could rouse in Cabo Verdians. But they underestimated the sheer determination and will of the people. They had no way of predicting the chance shipwreck and the cargo it carried.”
Directed by Joe Fletcher
Produced by Joe Fletcher, Anoushka Seigler and Anton Spice
Animation by Marc Torrent
Colour by Lita Bosch
Translation by Rita So, Bia Macedo
Featuring the voices of Pedrinho and Telo Peres
Nilza Aline Antunes da Silva Lima Barros
Hermano Jorge Da Cruz Gomes
Diego Renato Gomes Neves
Agnelo Alberto Koenig Pinto de Sousa Mendes
Music by Antonio Sanches, Joao Cirilo and Pedrinho
Special thanks to Samy Ben Redjeb at Analog Africa and Ian Vigstedt at Moog