ALEXIS DE VILAR - AFRICA THROUGH A LENS
Born in Barcelona in 1948, Alexis de Vilar indulged his wanderlust at the age of 16 and began traveling, something he has never stopped doing. Over the years, Alexis has visited over thirty countries, and has become a specialist in Third World problems, in particular those of Africa and Asia.
He has published several books and novels and is currently working on several others. As an international journalist, Alexis was the only journalist allowed to enter the Victor Versten prison at Cape Town while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there.
Alexis was selected by UNESCO to write an official television series for the International Year of the Child, and went on special assignment for the National Geographic to write about Spanish Routes of the World. He also founded the Tribal Life Fund in Brussels, an international large-scale effort to preserve the integrity of primitive tribes.
In 1992, a well-known publisher labelled Alexis the ‘Cousteau of the Earth’, as he continues fighting alone for the defence of the last traditional peoples and their supporting ecosystems. Internationally he is one of the most successful, creative and sought after photographers in the world. He speaks numerous African tribal languages and often returns to live amongst these indigenous peoples.
This heart-warming, poetic and beautifully filmed documentary follows Alexis on a journey to present an intimate portrayal of what will be a true African success story: The Great Green Wall project. We follow him and his camera as he makes a remarkable journey of discovery along this magnificent natural defence system.
Juxtaposing his archive photographs with his journey along the wall of Africa, he introduces us to and explores the spirituality of the indigenous people and their unique way of understanding and seeing life and the great respect they show for the environment, the flora and fauna. In short, they tell us of a different truth. Through Alexis, they share a unique insight with the audience, the true essence of a universe, which, although it belongs to them, could also be ours. A universe that we should defend whatever the cost, without trying to spoil or change anything.
The documentary opens in Alexis’ studio on the outskirts of Barcelona. Here surrounded by photographs, maps and artefacts from a life spent photographing and living amongst indigenous people throughout the world, Alexis gives the audience an insight into his world and what he feels is important and what can be learnt from such people. His eloquent descriptions, anecdotes, philosophy and thoughts are juxtaposed with his photographs and writing. He informs the audience what he wants them to learn from his journey along what will eventually be considered a natural wonder?
As he journeys along the route of the great wall of Africa the audience discovers the man behind the lens. It becomes an intimate portrait of a life lived to the full, a lament to his lost Africa, a journey of hope and discovery to find the tribes he has grown to love and call family. A journey of hope against overwhelming odds, that there is a beacon of light in the form of a wall of trees, that could unite countries, indigenous people, endangered species and flora for the better good of the African continent.
After speaking to an array of different personalities, politicians, tribes, environmentalist, government officials and zoologists, will Alexi’s return to his studio with a positive feeling towards his beloved Africa or disillusioned by a plethora of incompetence’s and political agendas that hinder this natural wonder.