According to Leão Lopes, the screening of the film at the Holy See is an initiative of Vatican Radio and is the result of the film’s “very interesting career.”
São Tomé – The Last Contract Workers tells the story of the Cape Verdean contract workers who arrived in São Tomé and Príncipe shortly before independence and who, after independence and the dismantling of the cacao plantations, remained in the country, abandoned to their fate, with “nothing more than the ground on which they stood.”
The film, which Lopes describes as a “sort of voyage” through what remains of the Cape Verdean émigré community in São Tomé and Príncipe, also tells the stories of the “ruins of colonialism,” which resulted in a “human drama” for the many Cape Verdeans who traveled there as what amounted to indentured servants.
Going back to his childhood memories, Leão Lopes explained that the subject of the “contract workers” was always enveloped in “mystery,” which stirred in him a “great curiosity” to visit the “paradox of São Tomé,” where children and adults of his time traveled, dreaming of a better life.
“We never heard anything from them again. So I went to find out. This film tells of the discovery and what I brought back from the trip: a profound questioning about the paths taken by so many of us, paths without return for some, paths to be resumed for others,” explains the filmmaker.