Opening in Canadian cinemas next week (June 24), the new feature-length documentary film, THE LONG RIDER, follows a young man’s journey on horseback from Canada, through the continental United States, Mexico, Central America then into South America on his way to his country of birth, Brazil.When Filipe Masetti Leite leaves his adoptive home of Canada, he sets out on an epic quest to ride from Calgary, Alberta, to his family’s home in Brazil – and later beyond – entirely on horseback. Inspired by Aimé Tschiffely’s legendary 1925 equestrian journey from Argentina to New York, Filipe’s 8-year odyssey of over 25,000 kms across twelve international borders, sees him and his trusty mounts battle intense heat, drought, speeding transport trucks, nature’s wrath and corrupt border guards on his history-making long ride home.
Apart from being a world-renowned Long Rider, Filipe is an award-winning journalist, and best-selling author. The Brazilian-born cowboy is the youngest person in the world to cross the Americas on horseback. In 2020 he was chosen as the Calgary Stampede’s Grand Marshal and ‘white-hatted’ by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. He is the author of the best-sellers, Long Ride Home (soon to be a motion picture) and Long Ride to the End of the World, published in Portuguese (Harper Collins) and English, soon to be released in Spanish. He is a regular contributor to The Toronto Star, a frequent guest on Rede Globo’s Fantastico, Brazil’s most watched Sunday night television show, and is writing his third memoir, Last Long Ride.Culled from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, the documentary deals with the issue of chronic loneliness and the insensitive, restrictive and frustrating nature of international borders, but regardless of all that, it’s an inspiring and emotional story of the most daring and epic proportions.
The Long Rider has been 10 years in the making. Shot almost entirely by Filipe on his cross-continental long ride, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Sean Cisterna, who went to the same high school as the cowboy, the duo seemed destined to bring this epic story to life. The kindness of humanity is on display in The Long Rider, made evident through the extraordinary strangers who helped Filipe along his journey. In these challenging times, The Long Rider offers hope and inspiration, one hoof at a time.“Filipe made an historically important equestrian journey, overcame tremendous challenges, suffered in the saddle physically and emotionally, and after a Herculean effort, rode into his beloved hometown in triumph”. – Cuchullaine O’Reilly, Founder of the Long Riders’ Guild and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Being a pony-club brat from childhood, this film fascinated me…could I ever have undertaken such a ride? Of course not, but I have such respect for Filipe and his beautiful loyal horses, Frenchie, Bruiser, Dude plus several others throughout the journey. So many disasters along the way including Frenchie (the palomino) getting hit by a truck in the middle of nowhere during a thunder storm that required serious veterinary treatment and a long period of recuperation that kept the trek on-hold for several weeks.Filipe and the producers have been asked so many questions during this pre-release publicity tour, such as…
Q: How long did it take to film The Long Rider?
A: The journey portion of the documentary took place over 8 years, and the interviews were collected over the course of 1 year. With all that footage, the editing process took almost 2 years.
Q: What countries was The Long Rider filmed in?
A: The Long Rider was filmed in 13 different countries – Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. In addition, the interview segments with the Long Rider’s Guild founder Cuchullaine O’Reilly was filmed in France.
Q: How about the horses’ well-being?
A: Filipe, an experienced rider and equestrian competitor who rode with his father since he was a baby, spent two years speaking to Long Riders around the world to learn how to properly travel on horseback. Through the Long Riders Guild, the world’s first international association of equestrian explorers and long-distance travelers, Filipe was also awarded the opportunity to participate in Stan Walchuk’s wilderness riding clinic in Northern British Columbia. Filipe always had his animals’ health in mind, travelling only thirty kilometres a day, taking lots of rest days, and never pushing them.Q: Was there a film crew travelling with Filipe the entire time?
A: No, for the most part, the journey footage seen in The Long Rider was captured by Filipe himself using a tripod, or by locals and friends that he encountered along the way.
In fact, the scenery itself was another “character” in the film – towering mountain ranges, snowy forests and winding highways, hot dry deserts, swampy marshes, and hard stony plains. And so many welcoming, smiling faces as Filipe and the horses clip-clopped into tiny villages and towns, some of which weren’t even on the maps. The emotional toll taken on the young man was also shown as part of the film – audiences are privy to Filipe’s joys, fears, frustrations and anger, the loss of his long-time girlfriend whose support was so valuable, then meeting the woman who was to become his wife towards the end of the ride all bring a sense of intimacy and triumph.
The Long Rider is due for release the last week of June and early July in cinemas across the country. The first pair of boots he wore on his Long Ride (below) are on display at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto…..…and two statues, more than five meters tall, have been erected in Brazil to celebrate his feat. The documentary has already won several awards and received Official Selection status in various international film festivals.Credits
Mythic Productions & Mojo Global Arts presents The Long Rider in association with NC2 Media
Directed & produced by Sean Cisterna
Executive Producers: Filipe Masetti Leite, Peter Hawkins, Arnon Melo, Sonya Di Rienzo, and Aeschylus Poulos
Director of Photography: Filipe Masetti Leite
Interview Cinematography: Carl Elster and Ingrid Vido
Editor: Lee Walker
Follow Filipe on Instagram @filipemasetti