Series: Über den Inseln Afrikas

Sao Tomé and Príncipe


A film by Christian Schidlowski
© 2011 / 43 min (German+French) and 52 min (English) / HD / 16:9 / Stereo

Together with photographer Rui Camilo we travel to the West African island state of Sao Tomé and Príncipe in search of pictures that capture the soul of the tiny country: a bird's-eye view of fascinating landscapes and unprecedented insights into the life of the people who inhabit this tropical paradise that could have been created by Hollywood set designers. Rui's project is the fulfilment of a dream from his childhood in Lisbon, where his teachers told captivating tales about the Portuguese colony's cocoa plantations.

Sao Tomé was once the world's leading producer of cocoa. Today, the Italian Claudio Corallo is picking up the thread: he experiments with all-but-forgotten cocoa plant varieties in pursuit of his abiding passion to produce the best chocolate in the world. Rui, a confessed "chocoholic", finds time during his photo shoots at the plantations and factories to sample the flavours of the exquisite natural products.

All around the islands, overgrown ruins bear witness to their colonial past. Today the islands are inhabited by the descendents of slaves. Rui approaches the people with the Portuguese of his youth, an accent-free children's language. He quickly breaks the ice with the locals, especially the young people. In a workshop he shows ten boys and girls how to make photos of their world themselves. At the end the course, they plan to exhibit the results of their project at the local market hall.

On his free days between photo lessons, Rui explores the two fascinating tropical islands – on foot, by Jeep and with a propeller plane. He encounters deserted palm-lined beaches, an almost untouched lush primeval forest and hatching sea turtles. What excites Rui most of all, however, are the people before his camera: "They don't try to make an impression. They stand there so naturally and with such elegance – it's something I've hardly ever seen in Europe."

With Rui Camilo and his camera we plunge deep into the soul of the friendly Santomeans and discover the secrets of two all but unknown tropical paradises. Director Christian Schidlowski and his team accompany him on his journey.



Written, directed and edited by Christian Schidlowski
Camera: Sascha Kellersohn
Title graphics: Stefan Matlik
Sound: Bastian Seidel
Sound mix: Tomas Bastian
Music: Nils Kacirek, Rajéry
Location manager: Edgener Albertino Espirito Santo
Production manager: Carolin Neubauer
Line producer: Markus Breimaier
Producer: Thomas Wartmann
Commissioning editor: Ulrike Becker, SWR

A coproduction of Filmquadrat.dok GmbH & Südwestrundfunk
in collaboration with ARTE.

Supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.


to films