Gabriel and the mountain

Gabriel and the mountain.

Last week, Just Boarded was invited to the Closing Night of the Brazilian Film Festival in Luxembourg for the screening of the movie Gabriel and the mountain. 

Based on a true story, this movie retraces the steps of Gabriel Buchmann, a young Brazilian traveller who died after climbing Mount Mulanje’s highest peak called Sapitwa (this is actually how the movie starts, we promise we’re not spoiling you right now!). Mount Mulanje is a mountain on the border between Malawi and Mozambique. Before entering a prestigious American university, this idealistic, travel-loving man decided to travel the world for one year. He started his journey in southeast Asia visiting countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia before arriving in Kenya determined to discover the African continent. In this movie, the Director Fellipe Barbosa recreates the last 70 days of his friend’s life, as he travels through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and finally Malawi. 

“It’s a long and arduous process to make a film that not only remembers a friend, but shows how a life can touch the hearts of so many, and leave the world in the blink of an eye.” Fellipe Barbosa

So, what can you expect?

Amazing scenery

Palm trees along a white sand beach

East Africa is famous for its spectacular wildlife and panoramas so be ready to admire dazzling wildlife and precious natural resources like volcanoes, tropical forests, deep lakes and rivers, and savannahs. In Tanzania, most of the people come to experience the annual migration of zebras and wildebeests in the Serengeti National Park but we think other places are equally impressive like the gigantic Ngorongoro Crater (the largest unbroken volcanic caldera in the world) full of wildlife in its center. For the mountain lovers, you can climb Mount Meru (4,565m) and obvioulsy the majestic snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, rising to a height of 5,895 meters above sea level. However, East Africa also has equally impressive coasts with pristine golden stretches of beach lapped by shimmering clear water. 

Well, we have to admit Africa holds a special place in our hearts so maybe we’re not very objective here, but still, we’re pretty confident you will be amazed by the scenery in that movie.

A close insight into the locals’ life

Close up view of women's colourful outfits in an African tribe

In the movie, Gabriel doesn’t want to be considered as a tourist and prefer the word traveller. He is a backpacker full of dreams who has a desire to travel in a non-touristic and sustainable manner, to meet local people, understand poverty and also test his limits. He likes to sleep rough, hitch lifts and gives away most of his daily budget to those in need. This film is therefore a great opportunity to dive into the locals’ life and learn more about their culture, their language and their habits.

A reflection on our way of travelling

Woman looking at the sunset over rocky peaks in Colorado

The movie constantly asks the viewer to question what it means to travel. Do we actually take time to travel? Or do we just follow a travel guidebook and a to-do list of things that « must » be seen? Sometimes, we visit places in a rush, not thinking about what’s around us, not willing to go off the beaten track to experience what other people don’t. It’s a great reminder that travelling is also about respecting the place we visit and the people we meet along the way. Let’s remember we’re here as a guest.

A mix of fiction and non-fiction 

Local Kilimanjaro guide smiling and wearing a red jacket

The main actors playing the role of Gabriel (João Pedro Zappa) and Cristina (Gabriel’s girlfriend played by Caroline Abras) are two very credible experienced Brazilian actors. Apart from them, all of the other protagonists are locals who actually met Gabriel. The film crew had a tough time trying to find the actual Kenyan tribesmen, Zambian bus driver and Tanzanian and Malawi hiking guides Gabriel encountered during his journey. The accessories and outfits were either carefully crafted to look exactly like the real ones or were actually Gabriel’s.


Gabriel and the mountain is a beautiful film about life, about a young man with an appetite for freedom and a desire to see the world and about Africa’s smile. Go watch it, make your own opinion and tell us what you think about it. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed! And if after that you feel a sudden urge to travel, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Until next adventure.

Marie x

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