182 minutes

The title of Gonçalo Tocha's epic, freeform diary of four years living on and off the Azorean island of Corvo is significant because of the myriad ways it reflects its own form and structure. Neither a classic documentary nor a straight-up video diary, though both at the same time, É na Terra, Não É na Lua is more of a house where we're invited to stay for three hours, expecting us to take our time in discovering it and settling down. Mr. Tocha is a reluctant filmmaker whose only previous work, 2007's Balaou, already defied easy classification, involving both documentary and film-essay tropes in a sort of "sea road movie" following his own attempt to come to terms with his mother's death.

     For É na Terra..., Mr. Tocha and his soundman Dídio Pestana lived in the island of Corvo for months at a stretch over a period of four years, and assembled a sort of "video diary" of their stays that morphs slowly into a sort of "work in progress" that constructs itself in the process of being seen. Using as a throughline the knitting of a traditional cap for Mr. Tocha by local craftswoman Inês Inez, the director hangs together a loose series of "chapters" portraying life in a 300-strong community in the middle of the Atlantic, connected to civilisation by three-times-a-week flights and infrequent boat service, seen through the eyes of a non-judgmental stranger who grows to love and be part of the island.

     In essence, the filmmaker is showing us one way to live in the present and savour the beauty of what surrounds us through this shapeshifting film that veers between scrapbook, souvenir, meditation, documentary, essay and video diary, all of them by turns or at the same time. Its austerity of means, leisurely length and gentle observational eye remind us of the great minimalist documentarians of modern China like Wang Bing or Li Xan; but there is also a playfulness that is very much Mr. Tocha's and helps the viewer to connect with this deeply personal project that only asks of people that they sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Directed, produced and photographed (colour, processing by Tóbis Portuguesa) by Gonçalo Tocha; written by Mr. Tocha, with the assistance of Rui Guilherme Lopes, Rui Ribeiro; soundtrack and sound by Dídio Pestana; edited by Mr. Tocha, Mr. Ribeiro, Catherine Villeret; narrated by Mr. Tocha, Mr. Pestana.
     A Gonçalo Tocha production.
     Screened: DocLisboa 2011 advance DVD screener, Lisbon, October 15th 2011. 

"É NA TERRA NÃO É NA LUA"_trailer 01 from Gonçalo Tocha on Vimeo.


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