It's the Earth Not the Moon

It's the Earth Not the Moon

As seen in IT'S THE EARTH NOT THE MOON, a film by Goncalo Tocha. All rights reserved.

It's the Earth Not the Moon


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It's the Earth Not the Moon (2011/2012)

Also Known As: E Na Terra Nao E Na Lua

Opened: 07/13/2012 Limited

Anthology/NYC07/13/2012 - 07/19/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Portuguese Documentary (Portuguese w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated

On an island inhabited by Man for 500 years and with little historical documents, this film takes on the odyssey of writing an intense, day-to-day, memorabilia journal of a civilisation isolated at sea.


A cameraman and a soundman arrive in Corvo in 2007, the smallest island in the archipelago of the Azores. Right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Corvo is a large rock, 6km high and 4km long, with the crater of a volcano, and a single tiny village of 440 people. Gradually, this small filming crew is accepted by the island's population as its new inhabitants, two people to add to a civilisation almost 500 years old, whose history is hardly discernible, such is the lack of records and written memories. Shot at a vertiginous pace throughout a few years, self-produced between arrivals, departures, and coming-backs, "It's the Earth not the Moon" develops as the logbook of a ship, and turns out as a patchwork of discoveries and experiences, which follow the contemporary life of a civilisation isolated in the middle of the sea.

A long atlantic film-odissey, divided in 14 chapters, that combines anthropological records, literature, lost archives, mythological and autobiographical stories.

Director's Statement

It's never easy to get to Corvo Island. It's'the most isolated point in Europe and the most inaccessible, located on the western extremity of the Azorean Islands - Portugal, in mid Atlantic Ocean.

Since the beginning of the human colonisation in Corvo until the end of the 2oth century, this island lived secluded and totally self-dependent. A closed agricultural community with ancestral rituals and codes but open to the sea. Historical are the stories about their relationships, economical and social, with the sailors and the pirates that sailed around the coast of the island. The state of Portugal was distant, the world for Corvo was the internacionl sea trade and Corvo was in the center of that trade.

I got to Corvo in 2007, amidst a strong development of investment plans from the EU for peripheral areas.

Maybe, there's no place anymore for a film that wants to portray a society with specific habits and rituals, preserved and left untouched by time. The fascination about Corvo now is to be able to present a strange portrayal, maybe through excess, of the western way of life integrated on an amazing natural landscape.

Production Notes

After my Dirst film "Balaou" (2007), on a sailing boat, I wished to make a long odyssey film in a small island. For me Islands are boats stopped in the Ocean, for centurys. And Corvo Island is the most perfect one: very small, just one tiny village, very far from the continent, almost unkwon and full of myths throughout it's history.

In August 2007 me and Didio Pestana, this film crew reduced to minimum (a cameraman and a soundman) arrived in the Island of Corvo. We were just two more inhabitants out of the 440 that live there.

Our filming periods were organised as long retreats interspersed in time.

During the three periods of filming (August and September 2007 / December and January 2008 / October 2008), we have worked on an initial stage as if we could be the contemporary historians/ archivists of the Island, recording everything that makes up the social dynamic of the village: services, jobs, working the land, Dishing, activities, celebrations, partys, the cafes.

We were doing the actual historical register of Corvo, the present history. The island doesn't have Archives and has few written documents and fewer visual documents, no actual journals, no literature, a forgotten craftsmanship and a rapidly eroding memory as the elderly die.

The initial stage of filming allowed us to get to know the people in the community and create personal relationships that were lasting. The characters naturally stand out in the film.

We took the challenge upon ourselves of not making a film based on 2 or 3 characters, 2 or 3 stories. On an island of little over 400 people it would be a missed opportunity not to make a mosaic constructed film in which all the characters and stories intertwine to convey the big picture of the whole community. There is a strong sense of community in Corvo. The island itself is circular, there is nowhere else to go.

With this rough material we have gathered some segments organised thematically and showed them to the people in them. The several comments made led to an even more active participation from the community and people on film. They started telling the stories in a more detailed and complex way, mixing Past and Present.

We have applied the same process to the few archive material we uncovered: the film from 1977, two published photo books from the 90's, newspaper articles, diaries and personal photos from the islanders.

This material, along with the oral memory and the contemporany stories, made our own personal journal on board. Many stories that we heard, were retold by us in the film.

It can be very interesting that in the film this island is no longer seen as peripheral but can be considered as the centre of the world.