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It’s the Earth Not the Moon

A poetic travelogue on the remote mid-Atlantic island of Corvo in the Azores, "It's the Earth Not the Moon" is a natural follow-up to Goncalo Tocha's previous docu, "Balaou," though here he's focused on outer rather than inner exploration.

Narrators: Goncalo Tocha, Didio Pestana. With: Ines Inez. (Portuguese, French dialogue)

A poetic travelogue on the remote mid-Atlantic island of Corvo in the Azores, “It’s the Earth Not the Moon” is a natural follow-up to Goncalo Tocha’s previous docu, “Balaou,” though here he’s focused on outer rather than inner exploration. Shot in 2007, 2008 and 2011, the film initially sets out to chronicle every inhabitant and tree on the small island (approximately 4 miles by 2.5 miles), but Tocha quickly decides on a narrower focus to explore the nature of the place. Unpretentious and always engaging notwithstanding its three-hour running time, “Earth” will find global appreciation among fest aficionados.

There are only 440 inhabitants in the one town, and one plane three times a week. Once a whaling outpost, the island remains an isolated place, experiencing the usual loss of traditions such as weaving and sheepherding, though Tocha cleverly structures the docu around knitter Ines Inez making him a fisherman’s beret. Clearly the helmer and his composer/soundman, Didio Pestana, overcame any resistance to outsiders and got to know everyone on Corvo; the results, divided into 14 chapters, form a beautiful meditation on community, isolation and time’s passing. Visuals are pleasingly unpolished.

It's the Earth Not the Moon


Production: A Goncalo Tocha, Barca13 production. (International sales: Barca13, Lisbon.) Produced by Goncalo Tocha. Directed, written by Goncalo Tocha.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Tocha; editors, Rui Ribeiro, Tocha, Catherine Villeret; music, Didio Pestana; art director, Rui Guilherme Lopes, Rui Ribeiro. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Cinema of the Present), Aug. 11, 2011. Running time: 183 MIN.

With: Narrators: Goncalo Tocha, Didio Pestana. With: Ines Inez. (Portuguese, French dialogue)

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