By Fredo VALLA


Documentary - Completed 2011

Young Geo Chavez’s heroic first-ever transalpine flight aboard an early canvas-panelled aircraft. An age of pioneers brought to life as a fairy tale using archives and 2D animations.

    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Duration
    • 52 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Fredo VALLA
    • Writer(s)
    • Fredo VALLA
    • Producer(s)
    • Enrica CAPRA (GraffitiDoc), Alexandre CORNU (Les Films du Tambour de Soie)
    • Synopsis
    • Brig, Switzerland. September 23, 1910. Following days of postponements due to bad weather, just two competitors remain in the challenge for the first-ever transalpine flight. The morning is foggy and chill, with gusty winds. It’s the next-to-last day of competition organized by an Italian commission. It doesn’t look like anyone’s going to pull it off. The organizers are driven by their firm belief in the inevitability of human progress. In July 1910 they announced the Transalpine Flight Challenge, with 70,000 lire for the pilot that succeeds in flying an airplane over the Simplon Pass (2008 meters above sea level), from Brig to Domodossola, Italy. An outrageous feat at the time, it would be the first successful transalpine flight ever. Aviation had only gotten off the ground seven years earlier, when Wright brothers made their famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. By 1910, progress had been made internationally. France had some 50 registered pilots; the Aero Club London had just been founded. But despite fast-coming advances in this new “sport”, until July 1910 no man had ever reached an altitude of more than 1,000 meters in an airplane. And now, suddenly, the challenge has been launched: Who will pilot an aircraft over a natural obstacle more than 2,000 meters high?
      ‘The First Transalpine Flight’ is a unique historical documentary that combines different genres and approaches in a familiar use of multiple audiovisual language codes, including experts’ views, the testimony of impassioned followers, the solidity of historical documentation, the concreteness of our own reconstruction, and the “lightness” of 2D and 3D animation. The following materials are at our disposal: interviews with experts on pioneer aviation; film footage and photos from that epoch, bringing to life the days before and after the flight and the minutes of it; access to early flying machines and aircraft housed in Italian and French museums; official documents; newspaper titles and reports about Chavez’s achievement; literary texts dedicated to him and to other pioneers of flight; current on-location footage of places once frequented by Chavez and memorials in honor of his transalpine feat; interventions by early pilots; a woodworker’s life-size reconstruction of Chavez’s Bleriot 11; an original animated reenactment of Chavez’s 1910 flight from Brig to Domodossola, designed by an up-and-coming animation talent, Francesco Vecchi; and, last but not least, the original footage filmed in 1910 of the transalpine flight itself, recently gone under restoration in Milan… While we remain faithful to the documentation, “The First Transalpine Flight” aims to be a non-genre historical documentary that involves viewers actively in a winning, thrill-packed flight across the Alps and beyond.
    • Partners & financing
    • Les Films du Tambour de Soie
    • Beginning of shooting
    • Jun 01, 2011