Soul travel, journey into the soul towards the summit of Kilimanjaro

The documentary Soul travel is a spiritual and physical journey on Kilimanjaro, which director Guia Zapponi conducted with a small crew.

As the world was engulfed by the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic and Italy was suddenly caught in the grip of the lockdown, the Milanese actress and director Guia Zapponi he decided to react to the claustrophobia of that moment by planning something new and extraordinary. This is how from a difficult experience that brought so many professionals like her in the entertainment world to their knees, Guia rolled up her sleeves and started imagining her new film: a travel documentary, to be done in a group, in a distant land capable of welcoming a journey that is not only physical, but also spiritual. A journey of the soul (Soul travel, in fact) and into the heart of Tanzania which the director likes to call a reality actionfor the eventful turn the film took during filming.

Soul travel, leave to find yourself

“The choice to leave was a reaction to the pandemic”, says Guia who has been on stages and sets since adolescence and has worked in both television and cinema with great directors such as Pupi Avati, Carlo Verdone and James Franco. “I wanted to express the profound call to interiority and spirituality that, like so many, I too felt at that moment and I wanted to do it through cinema and through both an interior and a physical journey. A way to understand the evolution that takes place within us ”, continues the director. “The risk in these cases is often that of passing further, but I believe that we should always treasure what happens and also for this reason I am really proud and happy to have made this film”.

Imagining the journey, the first thought flew to places that symbolize spirituality and the search for oneself, such as Tibet and Everest, but the difficulties of that particular historical moment have directed the fate of the documentary towards another equally suggestive destination: the Kilimanjaro volcano. “I immediately thought of the documentary”, explains the director, “because it is a format that allows you to grasp reality and puts you in a position of total openness to what is happening”. A direct drive started on 5 October 2020 in Tanzaniaat the foot of Kilimanjaro and which at a certain point (which we do not reveal so as not to ruin the vision) turned out to be “cumbersome”, with completely unexpected implicationsbut of great impact, both on the fate of the film and in the experience of the whole crew.

Soul travel in Milan for an evening event

The courage of the enterprise was rewarded not only by “a great personal satisfaction” for the director, but also by the director’s award received at the Terra di Siena Film Festival last September, from selection to Rome Independent Film Festival and from theatrical release in August. For those wishing to recover it, Soul travel will be back in the room on 7 February at Cinema Anteo in Milan for a evening event, during which the director will be present with part of the cast for a debate with the public. Distribution will then continue through streaming, on a platform that is still being defined.

Part of the Soul Travel troupe of ten © Carlo Galassi

The travel team

A fundamental condition for making this journey was for the director to make it together with others. “I wanted to bring three other people with me”, explains Guia Zapponi, “because even the journey we make in reality is a social journey, during which everyone has to relate to others”. It goes without saying that i many unexpected events, the difficulties and fears of that first period of pandemic have upset the plans several times, including renunciations and defections which, however, have never discouraged the director. Alongside her, three other travel companions left, united by the deep desire to prove yourselfeach with their own limits to overcome and their own spiritual quest to indulge.

Among them a well-known face: that of Giò Sada, singer-songwriter who after his triumph at X Factor in 2015 has chosen to move away from the spotlight, to go in search of his soul. And just Anima is the title of Giò Sada’s song chosen as the soundtrack of Soul travel.

To complete the group: Federico Piffarettisound engineer who has decided to change his life to become a trekking guide and find himself in the mountains he loves, e Valentina Della Roccaa professional traveler and art expert, determined to bravely challenge a disease that has fallen on her for a few years.

cast Soul travel
The cast of Soul travel on Kilimanjaro © Carlo Galassi

After introducing us to the protagonists of the trip, moving between Milan, Bari, Mantua and Como, the documentary takes us to the city of Arusha in Tanzania and from there to local villages, to learn about customs and traditions, taste drinks made from fermented bananas and enjoy the extraordinary view of the crater Ngorongoro, a conservation area “where animals of all species coexist in a perfect balance and harmony that is also found among the tribes of these areas”, as the director explains. “I was interested in telling the journey and not so much the destination”, continues Guia who alternates the travel shots with scenes shot in the theater, which through shadows and black and white images offer a parallel introspective tale. An inner journey in which the director explores her soul because: “there is only one way to find a destination; look inside “.

In slow steps, as the shipment requires, we go up to Kilimanjaro together with the group, following the local guides and discovering a landscape that changes gradually. A wonderful nature, but which will also reveal its most fearful state, a cry of suffering, caused by climate change and threatened by the action of man.

“One thing I learned during this journey is patience”, admits the director who, like the others, had to adapt to the rules and the effort required by the mountains and altitudes that offer beauty but take away oxygen from those who reach them.

Guia Zapponi, Soul travel
The director and actress Guia Zapponi in the part of Soul travel shot in the theater © Beatrice Zapponi

The next destination, a thriller between Italy and Costa Rica

Archived the experience on Kilimanjaro with Soul travel, Guia Zapponi has undertaken a new adventurewhich this time will come to life between Italy and Costa Rica. Not another travel documentary, but a real feature film with a provisional title Grace’s theory. It is about a thriller starring a biologist, Grace Villa, who works for the ComoNExT foundation and deals with climate changes.

“The scientist will have to deal with a patent belonging to a deceased colleague concerning a revolutionary discovery”, reveals the director, who in addition to directing the film will play the role of the protagonist. The idea of ​​this film came to Guia Zapponi starting from a desire and at the same time an awareness: “Today we need to restore the relationship between man and mother nature. In this film I overturn Darwin’s pyramid which placed man at the top and plants at the base, because the reality is that if plants disappeared man could not survive, while on the contrary if man disappeared the plants would go on. without problems”.

A concept that is based on respect and a fundamental bond, “the same that binds everyone to their mother”, explains the director. And precisely to underline this parallelism, the film will also tell the story of the protagonist, the mother and the granddaughter with a “very beautiful ending”, as revealed by Guia Zapponi, who had already put nature at the center of his work, investigating the threats of desertification with his documentary projects Live Mauritania! And Journey to Mauritania.

With Grace’s theory now the challenge is all new and will see the director grappling with her first feature film. “The forecast is to shoot with an international cast”. In the meantime, the appointment in the room is with Soul travel on 7 February at the Anteo cinema in Milan.

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Soul travel, journey into the soul towards the summit of Kilimanjaro – LifeGate