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FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE WITH PATRIZIA BRUNO AND MARIE PFISTERER

FRONT RUNNER ON THE MOVE WITH PATRIZIA BRUNO AND MARIE PFISTERER

- June 10, 2024

GUTS is a biographical adventure documentary written, co-produced, and directed by Marie Pfisterer and Patrizia Bruno. In it, they cross North-West Africa in a much-loved but occasionally problematic Hyundai Galloper. It’s also the moving tale of a nomadic surf expedition that paints the refreshing picture of an all-female expedition, meaningful encounters with other women, and a harmonious reconnection with the magnificence of nature, and freedom.

GUTS tells the success stories of the inspiring African women they meet along the way. The documentary aims to inspire others to also always listen to their gut feelings. We recently met with Marie and Patrizia to discuss their trip and soon-to-be-released film.

© Jo Savage

How did you two meet?

Patrizia: I am originally from Italy, and Marie is from Germany, but we settled in the French Basque Country in France due to our love for the ocean and mountains. We met a few years ago in Morocco and became great friends on a road trip to Portugal a few years later.

I am a writer and director, and Marie is a photographer and producer. We felt this incredible creative connection, and so exploring together was easy! On that trip to Portugal, we discovered that we both had the same crazy dream of crossing Africa as females. When Billabong decided to support it, we had to go all in; the dream would become a reality.

© Jo Savage

Why did you call your 5-month expedition through West Africa GUTS?

Marie: We called our trip GUTS because our gut feelings told us to take this crazy journey through Africa. Deep inside, this little voice told us to explore Africa to tell the stories of the incredible women we would meet. Sometimes, you long for something without a logical explanation, and we just knew that we had to do it.

For us, GUTS has two meanings: we were listening to our guts and that inner feeling, but we also had to have the guts or courage to make the trip, and this is what our trip and our upcoming documentary are all about.

© Jo Savage

You say you want to be the eyes and voice of the people who want to improve our planet. How are you doing that?

Patrizia: I believe that in every little village, in every corner of the world, there's this one person doing something great, not only for themselves but for the whole community. The idea was to go out and find these people and share their stories with the world to show that we can still achieve a lot when we give it our all. I love to do that when I travel: find inspiration and share it with the world.

© Gutsfilm & © Jo Savage

What were your impressions of African women?

Patrizia: Women in Africa have a strength that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world; they can hold the weight of the whole universe on their shoulders and are pillars to their families and communities. During our trip, we passed through several countries with different cultures, religions, and social structures, and the situation of the women we met changed drastically from one place to another.

Some women in Morocco are as emancipated as any Westerner, while Mauritania still has women living in slavery, even though it was officially abolished in 1981. Senegal is a big, colorful mix, where you’ll find women walking the streets in miniskirts while others wear the traditional djellaba and cover their hair.

What we tried to do with GUTS was to consult with women from every social, political, and religious background to show that no matter where you come from, if you dare listen to your gut and follow your path, you will achieve your truth and make your miracle.

© Marie Pfisterer

What vehicle did you use for your expedition?

Marie: We used a Hyundai Galloper, a last-minute choice after our original selection fell through. The Galloper has a lot of space, which made it perfect for our trip as two people slept in the Front Runner Roof Tent while one slept in the vehicle. As we couldn’t give it a good run or proper check-over before the trip, we had loads of vehicle mechanical issues along the way, but what would an adventure be without a few vehicle mechanical issues?

How did you prepare for the adventure?

Patrizia: A lot of coffee and a lot of sleepless nights. It takes time to write down your idea, start visualizing the story, contact potential sponsors, sign deals, finish outstanding projects, and be ready to head off for five months. It was all full-on before we left.

© Jo Savage

What other Front Runner kit did you use?

Marie: We used a lot of the Front Runner kit, and the most important of these was the Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack, as it created loads of extra space outside of the Hyundai. We had a great Front Runner setup. The Wolf Pack plastic storage boxes made sure our gear was organized.

The Cutlery Set and Expander chairs were used daily, while the BBQ/Braai stored on the spare wheel was one of our favorite bits of kit.

© Jo Savage

What were the best places you stayed at or visited?

The authenticity of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the silence we experienced in the Mauritanian desert, and finally, the endless palm-lined beaches of southern Senegal. They were all special.

Was the trip a success?

We wanted to listen to our guts and inner voices again and learn how other women achieve great things by having the courage to make changes. Our goal wasn’t to reach a particular destination or surf specific waves; it was all led by our intuition, and now we can say we overachieved in that regard.

We met the craziest, most courageous, and unbelievably inspiring women in Africa, from the first female mountain guide in the Atlas Mountains to the off-road driving queen of the Mauritanian desert, the young and upcoming surfing kids in Senegal, and the tribal women of Guinea Bissau. You will see them all in the documentary.

© Gutsfilm & © Marie Pfisterer

What would you do differently if you were on a similar trip again?

Marie: We would raise more money beforehand, as our finances were tight towards the end. Due to our mechanical problems, we had to extend our trip by six weeks, so we came home and had to start working straight away.

We still felt exhausted for several weeks after the trip, and the money to finish our documentary was limited. So now we are doing it the African way, petit a petit, step by step. It takes longer, but we love and enjoy the process anyway.

Tourists love southern and eastern Africa; for you, what are the biggest attractions in West Africa?

Marie/Patrizia: Hospitality. It was not about the places for us; it was all about the people who opened their hearts and homes to us. The many shared teas and talks around the bonfire. The singing in the car. The constant encounters with new friends, who felt like family.

© Marie Pfisterer

What were the best surfing spots on the trip?

Marie: We surfed in every country along the way and loved the variety and consistency of the waves in Morocco. The isolation and empty spots in Mauritania were also sound. The tropical surf vibes in Senegal and the majestic scenery of The Gambia will never be forgotten.

How can people read about or see footage of your West African trip? ​

We are still editing our documentary, going through all the crazy images and inspiring stories. Next will be some film festivals, where our documentary will hopefully be screened by the end of the year. We want our film to reach as many people as possible to encourage all young girls and women to listen to their inner voices and follow their path.

We need support to make the film a reality, as editing and marketing are expensive. You can support us by donating on our website, www.gutsvoyage.com, and purchasing our postcards and prints. Additionally, you can follow the project on our Instagram account @gutsthefilm. https://www.instagram.com/gutsthefilm/

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