Film Review: Miss Angela

STUDIO: Gravitas Ventures | DIRECTOR: Lloyd Stanton, Paul Toogood
SPECS: NR | 93 min. | Documentary

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

If you think you are too old to follow your dreams, then you need to watch the inspiring new documentary Miss Angela.

Angela Alvarez believes “music is the language of the soul” and had dreams of becoming a famous singer-songwriter. However, that life wasn’t permitted for a young woman in pre-revolutionary Cuba, so Angela wrote her songs in secret and was only allowed to share them with family. Decades later, when her grandson, who works as a composer, began recording her music in an effort to save it for future generations, a treasure trove of original songs was discovered. This led to Miss Angela’s debut concert at the historic Avalon Theater in Hollywood on her 91st birthday. She was joined on stage with world class Cuban musicians, as well as Cuban refugee and Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia (The Godfather: Part III), who also narrated and executive produced the film.

Alvarez’s journey to the Avalon is a compelling one. As directors Paul Toogood and Lloyd Stanton (Dying Laughing) follow her preparations for the concert, they thoughtfully examine all the tragic, bittersweet and loving moments of her life which were the inspirations for her soulful songs. The first half of Miss Angela focuses on her exodus from Cuba at the start of the Revolution. At the gate ready to board a flight to America with her four young children – her husband had to stay behind to work for Castro’s — visa issues prevented her from boarding and she had to make the split-second decision to send her children on the flight, unaccompanied, with the plan of catching up the next day. The children became part of the Pedro Pan exodus where 14,500 unaccompanied young ones were spirited out of Cuba between 1960-62. It took Miss Angela four more long, frightening and frustrating years to escape and reunite with her family.

The film continues through the latter half of her storied life as the family moves to Mexico, Florida and, finally, Louisiana and the heartbreaking death of her husband and daughter to cancer. Alvarez’s poetic lyrics guide us through these touching moments until it culminates with her big moment walking on stage and finally making her dream come true.

Vibrant, vivacious and full of warmth and humor, the nonagenarian is a documentarian’s dream. Her passion for music is infectious and upon viewing Miss Angela, there will be many, many new fans of Cuban music and the lady herself.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at