This site is for my daughter, Clara Villaverde Cabral Jost, born March 27, 1997, in Lisbon, Portugal.
At the time of Clara’s birth, her mother, filmmaker Teresa Villaverde was preparing a new film, Os Mutantes. Two weeks following Clara’s birth she went to full-time work on that film, being minimally present for most of the time from then until the film was finished shooting, in September 1997. We then traveled to Japan for the Yamagata Festival, and moved to Paris where Teresa was to do her editing. As is usual in some sectors of the film world, editing was a long 12 hour a day affair going on for months. Teresa went from finishing this film to the festival circuit, and then began another film, Agua e Sal. During all this time I was Clara’s full-time companion and caretaker, with her every day, all day, with almost no help. In the her first three and a half years I was, without help from family or hired baby-sitters, with her for all but a few weeks. Psychologically, for her, I was her “mother.” The period was a joyous one for me, and it was in no way a problem caring for my daughter; rather it was a privilege.
On Nov. 2, 2000, at the conclusion of shooting Agua e Sal, Teresa Villaverde, returning from Portugal, kidnapped Clara from our home in Rome, taking her to Lisbon and going into hiding. Subsequently while Italian authorities formally requested the return of Clara to Italy under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, Portuguese authorities denied this request, and ended awarding temporary custody to Teresa Villaverde following court hearings in which false claims and statements from Villaverde were persistent. Proofs of the falsity were presented in documents given to the court, but the courts of Portugal are corrupt, and the Villaverde family is culturally and politically powerful. I was subsequently given visiting rights which Teresa Villaverde immediately and repeatedly blocked, violating the terms of her custody, but the courts, when informed, did nothing to force compliance.
In August, 2001, being again blocked from visiting with Clara though a court order said I had the right to do so every day for the month, and seeing that Clara was being subjected to tangible abuse by Teresa Villaverde, I took Clara back to Rome. Shortly thereafter our apartment was raided by Interpol, and Clara was then placed by Italian authorities in the temporary custody of Teresa Villaverde, who was ordered to remain in Italy for court hearings. Ms Villaverde promptly – as I had told the authorities would happen – kidnapped Clara again, in direct violation of an Italian court order.
Since that time, August 2001, I have never seen, or been given any word on Clara. Birthday and Christmas cards have been returned; and the last card was returned with the stamp “unknown” on the envelope. More importantly, Clara was stripped of her right to see her own father, the person who had been with her constantly for her first 3 and a half years of life and to whom, as her mother said after the kidnapping, she was deeply attached. This uprooting and separation was a violent and terrible attack against Clara, her interests and her life. It was done solely at the behest of Teresa Villaverde Cabral, and in direct contradiction to the many emails she sent to me on how she would go about a separation – one which she instigated.
This blog is for Clara, so as she grows to wonder who her whole family is, she will have access to the truth of the beginnings of her life, and information on who her father is, and how to find him.