Sarah Siegel-Magness with Mankind and Smokewood Entertainment
Join Forces to Bring Castro’s Daughter to Big Screen
Toronto, Canada — Castro’s Daughter has found a new family. Mankind Entertainment is pleased to announce today at the Toronto International Film Festival that acclaimed American producer and director, Sarah Siegel-Magness, has come aboard to helm the historical drama, Castro’s Daughter. This comes after a recent announcement that British director Michael Radford (‘Il Postino, 1984) amicably parted ways with the project and its Producers.
In addition to Siegel-Magness boarding the Director’s chair, Smokewood Entertainment Group will come aboard to produce. Smokewood Entertainment is best known for producing Lee Daniels’s directorial hit, Precious, which won several awards at Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival, and was an official selection at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. Its founders, Siegel- Magness and Gary Magness were both nominated for Oscar and BAFTA’s for Best Picture on ‘Precious;’ and won Independent Spirit and PGA awards.
The Castro’s Daughter’ screenplay was penned by Bobby Moresco, who won an Oscar, a BAFTA and numerous other awards with Paul Haggis for co-writing Crash in 2005 and acclaimed Cuban Broadway playwright-director crossover: Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics). The film is based on the coming-of-age, true story of Fidel Castro’s exiled daughter, Alina Fernandez, who was the result of Castro’s 1950’s extra-marital love affair.
For years Fernandez grew up under the watch of her stepfather, Orlando Fernandez; until he fled Cuba to America three years after Castro took power.
Fernandez later escaped into exile in 1993, after becoming a dissident being caught in between wanting a better life for her daughter, and the heated political climate in Cuba at the time. Fernandez’s mother is said to have been a driving force that helped put Castro in power for nearly half a century; having sold her jewelry and emptied her bank account to help fund his army during his first failed attempt at taking power.
The project was developed by and will also be produced by Mankind Entertainment’s John Martinez O’Felan (formerly John Torres Martinez) and Joe Lamy, who acquired the rights and have developed the project and shopped it to studios early on. Cruz, who himself escaped Cuba on a freedom flight as a child, will be co-producing and creatively consulting with Siegel- Magness throughout the process, along with Fernandez, who herself will be on set during production of the film for character consultation.
“We are extremely honored and excited that Mrs. Siegel-Magness has chosen this project as her next directorial feature. We have no doubt that her passion and vision will bring full justice to the story. This is a story that can not only bring light to the human condition in Cuba, but also provide a sense of calling for world attention and healing for the people there. “said O’Felan.
Siegel-Magness went on to comment: “I am extremely honored and humbled to be a part of this beautiful story. Alina Fernandez is an unsung hero who has carried an invisible flag for freedom and democracy. I hope to bring this universal story of faith, hope and freedom to the big screen. I have faith this story will bring focus to the freedoms we all take for granted and inspire those of us who intrinsically know what is right in our hearts to fight for what we believe in”
Producers are tagging the film as Evita meets Argo, told from a daughter’s perspective who overcomes the everlasting effects of the grips of her father through her own self-liberation. The film would detail parts of Fernandez’s childhood, and her escape, which wasn’t detailed in her book; and which has yet to be told on film.
Smokewood Entertainment Group and Mankind are working to finalize the film’s budget and casting, and are planning a 2014 start. Deal is being put together by O’Felan and Siegel- Magness.
About Mankind Entertainment:
Mankind Entertainment is an entity formed for the development, packaging and production of feature films. The company was formed by Austin-based producers John Martinez O’Felan and Joe Lamy, and focuses primarily on the financing, development and production of award-driven, specialty and Hispanic cross-culture films.
Mankind is working on the upcoming adaptation of Anna in the Tropics; which is written by Nilo Cruz, with Academy award nominee, Lee Daniels (Precious) having developed.
About Smokewood Entertainment Group:
Founded in 2007 by Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Smokewood Entertainment produces films with positive messages for diverse audiences. The Denver-based company produced the award-winning motion picture Precious, based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, and executive produced the critically acclaimed feature Tennessee. Sarah Siegel-Magness, Academy award and BAFTA nominee, is the co-founder, along with husband Gary Magness, and managing partner of Smokewood Entertainment.
Sarah’s credits include producing the award-winning Lionsgate film Precious and Tennessee. Recent projects include a film adaptation of Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody young adult book series; which received a multi- platform release through Relativity, 20th Century Fox and The Disney Channel. Siegel-Magness recently Directed her feature debut Crazy Kind of Love starring Academy Award nominated actress, Virginia Madsen.