Movement: A Journey into creative lives

Sometimes we associate a trip with a person, a song, a photo or a book. What about a movie?

This is what has been happening to thousands of passengers who find this documentary on TAP long-haul flights, making it one of the most watched, and certainly one of the most inspiring, documentaries in our entertainment system. It's on our favorites list.

The documentary recounts the story of a man who travels through Portugal and discovers the country's diversity through unique and inspiring characters.

We spoke with the director - Tobias Ilsanker - and the host/narrator - Francisco Cipriano - of this incredible documentary and asked them about the motivations, ideas and inspiration behind this work.

From whom did the idea of making the Movement come from? What was the inspiration? 

Tobias -  First of all, I assume we are all connected by the beautiful fact that we have a common "passion" and that’s the "love" towards Portugal. Furthermore, I strongly believe it has to do with the emotional state while we are travelling. We are open to receive, process and except new things in life in a different way. 

I assume we all sooner or later face the question in life what and where is "home" to us. So, I asked myself that same question. Portugal has and will always have a special place in my heart.
Surely, we are not all on the same stage of our spiritual journey and phase in life, but beautiful friendships, interesting projects with meaning and finding our voice undeniably is something we are all striving for. My Portuguese girlfriend was another big reason how I got so deeply integrated to the Portuguese Way-of-life, the language and its culture. You experience it first- hand. I became more and more passionate about documenting the people I have met on my journey, I listened, reflected, and simply tried to learn what they had to teach us through their own story. 

Jose Antunes (Yoni) was the first person I was very interested in - not just to document during a longer period in his career, but also to learn from him his values of the basic principles of self-sustainability, before I even started to think about movement. This was the real initial start of the storytelling phase. I had so many open questions yet to be answered. 
But I have also met more people that captivated my interest and mind, and the Portuguese are very connected. The country is relatively small but so versatile. You all know each other. If not, a friend will know you. The concept of telling short life stories has been around for ages. 
We have not invented the wheel of filmmaking here, but the power of close friendship, unique complex characters with passion made it the project it is.

Francisco - I already knew Tobias Ilsanker. He lives in Baleal and I have a house in Consolação, which is very close. Unlike summer, in winter there are few of us and we are always running around into each other, mostly in the waves. I already knew Tobias' work and he knew my Portugal Surf Guide. One day, in one of these meetings, he told me about this idea and told me that I was the right person to be the host, the narrator, the conductor of the stories, basically the connection between these characters. I said yes, because the idea struck me as incredibly interesting, with the awareness that it was a very ambitious thing and that it would involve some funding. Still, I scribbled some ideas through what Tobias and Philip had given me and sent them. A while later, when I realized I was already with him and Philip Zyla, producer, in Munich presenting the project to one of the partners. I felt at that moment that all of this might actually be possible. 
Philip Zylla, Francisco Cipriano and Tobias Ilsanker

As the doc is directed and produced by two Germans, how did Francisco, who is Portuguese, join the project? 

Francisco - Actually, I don't even feel that issue. It is a Portuguese film, about Portugal, made by an international team. Tobias has been living in Portugal for a long time and he's already very connected to the Portuguese culture. I think that this was very positive, as it allows for a different look and which is more noticeable in the images. Let's say with a certain romanticism that the images show that, because they are filmed by a foreigner, they are more impartial. I was born and raised in Portugal, at a time where what today are traditions, they were the day-to-day in the past. And you don't have to spend a lot of time. Two decades are enough to having lost plenty. Tobias captured this essence. I would have just highlighted that it was something my grandmother did, no big deal. I believe that having a Portuguese as a host or narrator was, in this context, the logical choice. Due to the form and content.  

I believe that I appear in the film because I am the right person, because I am precisely Portuguese, because I have the ability to formulate the right questions that would lead the characters to tell us their stories first. Also because I know our country well, and because I myself have a story and unanswered questions.  

The film follows me, follows Francisco Cipriano on an emotional trip through his own country, Portugal, and raises a number of questions that disturb me. What would it be like to live a different life? What would it be like to live in a different place? What would it be like to have a different job? What motivates us? What makes us afraid? These were the questions that kept Francisco on the road. The documentary does not answer the questions, but it launches reflections by showing first-hand the experiences of a dozen exceptional characters, who live or have built different lives, and made their own choices.  

Tobias - And one special sentence of Francisco Cipriano was pushing me a lot: "You know Tobias.... I have travelled a lot in my life so far, but I reached a certain point, where I am very curious to explore my own country."

This statement stayed with me until today and was certainly the driving force for telling this story of a Portuguese man, that on his journey, through his own country, meets interesting and meaningful life stories. And isn't it so true?! By all means visiting different countries is a great lesson in life, but why do we have to fly to end of the world to experience new impulses and inspirations for our life? 

"A beautiful journey can start right here around the corner".  Francisco was so passionate, co-operative, and pro-active. His role in the project as a host and narrator was just perfectly tailored and shows exactly how Francisco is in real-life.

Was it easy to set up the project? Were the ideas well received by the partners?  

Francisco The idea yes, the practical no. We felt support from the partners right away, but it was always a low-budget film. Our tiny team did everything, production, filming, transporting the material. I say this without reservation: regardless of everyone's contribution, this film is due to Tobias Ilsanker's determination and hard work. It was a long way. Two years, between conceiving the idea, filming all over Portugal, and then all the final editing and post-production phase. It is amazing how far we have come and how we have ended up in such a surprising way.  

Tobias - Philip Zylla was always incredibly supportive since day one! He lived for years here in Portugal and his own kids grew up here before he moved back to Germany. It's a passion and dedication towards something that cannot be explained when not experienced. But he was always willing and convinced me to push and find the financial support to make it happen and to tell those stories we were all so fascinated about. We bounced a lot of ideas and tried to find our way. The partners of Movement received the idea and concept of the documentary very well. It is a link between many aspects and what drives them to follow along their passion. It's a certain complexity that they must overcome to live a certain lifestyle, a struggle we all face to succeed. Nothing is for granted! Nothing! 

There are wonderful people out there!

The documentary is about people, but Portugal is the setting. Did you already know those people? How did you get to them?

Francisco -  Yes quite a lot. Some come from older projects, namely the Portugal Surf Guide. Others, friends of friends and others still, longtime friends. It facilitated the initial approach, but complicated the construction of the story, as it seemed that they were telling me things I already knew and I was asking things I should already know. But it had to be, because we were “assembling” a story for the viewers who knew nothing about these people and these lives. We are, however, very grateful, first for having such an interesting range of people, who allowed us to tell good stories, but also for the fact that people have opened the door to the stories of their lives in such a sincere way.

Does the fact that Portugal is the backdrop make the documentary unique? Why did you decide to make this work in Portugal and not in another country? What is the most impressive place you have been?  

Tobias - Portugal is our "common ground" the place we feel at home, the place we connected through friends and family over years. A place that made sense to start our idea. A place where we still feel inspired by its beauty. A place where we were able to learn, to grow and to share. A place where we know all know each other and our friends know other friends. This is how it all evolves. 

We all met here! Philip, Francisco our host and narrator, Richard de Wit (our story consultant) as well as Daniel M. Silva, the man I have spent most of the time with whilst editing the project during the boiling hot Portuguese summer months, on the 6th floor of his building in a small room. 


Francisco - Yes, without a doubt. As a Portuguese I felt very proud to have such a spectacular country. As I say in the movie. “When people ask me what Portugal has, I feel like saying everything”, talk about castles, the Douro wine region, beaches, waves, remote villages. Movement portrays all of this spectacularly. Movement is a narrative film about the diversity of Portugal and about unique characters who have different lifestyles. It tells fantastic personal stories, united by passion, determination, courage and introspection and about his/our deep relationship with nature. When I look at the final result I am very proud. Proud of the result, because it matches our expectations and proud that we were able to do it.  

This project was born and grew to be made in Portugal. However, I am sure that we would also find different personalities and surprising lifestyles in other countries, as well as stories that are worth telling (I would love to), and just like in Portugal, countries with surprising images too. 
One place that always impresses me a lot is Fajã de Santo Cristo, on the island of S. Jorge in the Azores. 

What were the biggest challenges and best moments during the recording of Movement? 

Francisco -  I believe that the best moments of the filming were the interviews that then led to the storytelling in each character's voice. Because in these parts I play as myself. The curiosity of getting to know these people is genuine, the questions were genuine, the desire to know more and explore, was all genuine. That's why, when I left each of the characters, I tried to write it down straight away, so that I still had all the emotions under my skin (voice over you hear in the film). What I thought at that moment, what that place transmitted to me, in the hope of putting down on paper the most real and immediate sensations. I felt great in this mixed role of host, presenter, interviewer and traveler. The biggest challenge was doing this without a team. Most of the time it was just me and Tobias who hit the road and went to discover these people and these places, with all the logistics that a filming process comprises: several cameras, drones, lenses, cables…, capture the good early morning light and still have ideas. Putting all this together and being fresh to think can sometimes be very complex.  

Tobias - I guess the biggest challenges where the moments of trust and acceptance. Right from the start with our partners and until every single protagonist in our movie there were a lot of intense talks, emails and trust-forming conversation taking place, before a single first moment got recorded on camera. On location, our biggest struggle was the limited team that often just was me and Francisco or often me alone with the protagonists. It was all very personal, they invited me to sleep over at their homes, or I would rest in my car or in a budget hostel. 
Far away from any luxury but very close enough to the story itself!

One of the best moments for me after spending all that time with every single protagonist was the moment to bring them all together. We organized a big lunch at Buddha Retreats on their idyllic terrace and brought all characters together. 

Are there any stories left untold?

Francisco - Yes, there is. We were left with back-up stories that deserved another Movement to be told.  

Do you still remember people's reactions when it was premiered in cinemas? Do you want to share with us some of those comments? Are you still receiving comments?

Francisco -  Yes, I continue receiving many comments on my networks and even on the street. Most people are surprised by the images of Portugal, others by the stories, which they tell me are truly inspiring. Beautiful images about Portugal, courageous and determined characters who were able to lead their lives in the direction they intended. This is just that, a provocative film in its imagery and phrases, which leaves no one indifferent. 

TAP often receives comments from passengers praising the film. People often feel the need to watch it again and recommend it to friends. The film to date has been seen by more than 15,000 people on TAP aircraft. How do you feel about this?

Francisco - Couldn't be happier. It is a sign that we have passed our message on to many people. A message of inspiration, but also of choices and diversity: different personalities and lifestyles, unique personal stories, united by passion, determination, courage and introspection. This is also a film about our deep relationship with nature and how we should respect it. 

Are there plans for other documentaries of the same kind? If so, tell us all about it...

Tobias - This was our first full-length 90min documentary project. We learned a lot, failed, and succeeded to meet our goal. It was a learning curve of 2 years on location. After a break now I feel ready for a new challenge! I want to work on a new documentary with meaning! I am happy to spend time and learn with passionate people.

Francisco - We are not lacking ideas. I know I'm ready for another one! I loved the experience and I feel very good in this skin. I would love to be able to develop this line of work. I like to tell stories.  

Are there any plans for your next trip? Please share your thoughts with us about your next travel destination. 

Francisco - I always have plans for a new trip. I would like to go explore the Caucasus region. I believe these countries in Eastern Europe and Western Asia (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) still have a lot to tell us.

Tobias - Our motto: A journey can start right around the next corner! Opportunities will come!


Find more at:

Instagram Tobias: ilsankerphoto 
Facebook Tobias Ilsanker 

Instagram Francisco: fcipriano
Facebook Francisco Cipriano

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