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Summer 1993-2017

Summer 1993 | Estiu 1993 | Verano 1993


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A new family. A new world.

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About Summer 1993 💬


  • Based on a true story.

Catalonia, 1993.

In Carla Simón's autobiographical film, six-year-old Frida (Laia Artigas) looks on in silence as the last objects from her recently deceased mother's apartment in Barcelona are placed in boxes.

With both her parents now dead from AIDS, she is taken to the Catalonian countryside. There are fears that she may have inherited the disease from her mother, but it transpires she is free of the virus. Although her aunt (Bruna Cusí), uncle (David Verdaguer), and her 4-year-old cousin Anna (Paula Robles) welcome her, it's only very slowly that Frida begins to get used to her new home in the countryside, and the idea that her mother is not coming back, and that her new family is permanent.

Carla Simón's autobiographical debut is a depiction of childhood and family lost and found.

  • INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR CARLA SIMÓN

Q: The story is inspired by your own experiences as a child. Did it make it easier or more difficult to write and direct?

Carla Simón: I have told my story so many times, and because of that it kind of turned into a legend, into something that happened to me but at the same time feels like a tale. Memories, family stories, imagination... everything got mixed in my mind when I started writing the script. I guess that's why it was quite easy to put together a first draft, because I wrote from images that I had inside. However, it was a bit harder to give some structure to all these images. That's why I decided to preserve this feeling of ''little moments,'' picturing something similar to my first summer with my new family. Sometimes I wondered why I had the need to explain something that personal and it wasn't until I finished the script that I realized how much I had learned about my own family, because the writing process made me look at the story from every character's point of view.

It was only while directing the film that I felt the need to take some distance from my own experience. If I wanted realistic performances, I couldn't portray the elements exactly as they were in my memories or in my imagined images. In shooting, reality prevails and I believe it's always more interesting than anything I could possibly imagine myself. So, the compromise between the reality of the shooting and my own images was a hard thing to deal with. Also, when you direct you constantly have to prioritize specific elements of your story. Every little element had a meaning related to my childhood and that's why the actors took a very important role. I learned to listen to them in order to see when I was forcing something just because I had an emotional relationship with it.

Q: How important is the fact that the film is set in Catalonia and in the '90s?

Carla Simón: To me, it was very important to return to the real places where I moved when I was six. It's as though this story couldn't be filmed in any other place. The landscape in La Garrotxa is very particular. It's surrounded by mountains; you barely see a sunrise or a sunset, and in summer the range of greens is huge. It was a beautiful process to look for the images of the film in places that I know so well. As a kid, I used to play in the house where we shot the film; as a teenager, I spent long hours with my friends in the village squares where some scenes take place; and my new parents used to work in the swimming pool we used as a location.

Also, the characters of the film are inspired by my family who were born and raised in Catalonia. Frida's grandparents represent the generation who lived through the Spanish Civil War as part of the upper class and have preserved their right-wing ideals even today. Neus, Lola, Angie, Marga, and Esteve represent the generation who rebelled against all these traditional values, including Catholicism. Marga and Esteve also portray a group of people known as neo-rural, for whom the village is a way of life. In the 80s, a growing number of urbanites, for economic, philosophical, or personal beliefs, went to live in rural areas as Marga and Esteve did.

Also, the 90s were when I lived my childhood and recovering the toys, the games and the costumes to recreate this period had a big emotional value for me and most members of the crew.

Q: Frida's parents die of AIDS. Was this a wide problem in Spain at that time?

Carla Simón: It was. Nowadays almost everyone in Spain knows someone who died of AIDS over this period. The Spanish Transition was a happy time of sudden freedom, of maximum aperture in Spain. However, this sudden freedom also led to a big consumption of drugs. In the mid-80s media started reporting what they called the ''Heroin Crisis,'' which came along with the rise of HIV infections. The anti-retroviral meds didn't arrive until 1994, which was too late for most people from this generation, including my parents. At the beginning of the 90s, around 21,000 people died of AIDS in Spain, the country with the highest incidence of AIDS in Europe. Moreover, in 1986, the year I was born, 30% of the mothers passed the virus to their children. Fortunately, I was from the 70% that were not infected.

So, this context shows this is not only my story but also the story of my parents' generation, who lived the transition, and my own generation, who lived the consequences of it.

Q: Tell us more about the carnival that happens at the end of the film.

Carla Simón: Capgrossos and Gegants are very typical Catalan festivities. Almost every village or town in Catalonia has its own Gegants and Capgrossos that perform traditional dances during the festivities. The ones performing in the film are from my village.

National folklore always attracts my attention because of its great cinematic value. We think of our own folklore as something that is normal because we know it so well, but when it's seen through outsiders' eyes it takes on another meaning. I've always thought that Capgrosos are quite grotesque. They should frighten children, but children in my village love them and they can't wait to grow up and participate in the carnival. In the film, Frida becomes one of them carrying the big flag, and you can see how happy she is to be part of this strangely beautiful tradition.

Q: Frida deals with the death of her mother in her very own way. Can you tell us more about her feelings?

Carla Simón: Losing her parents is probably the worst thing that could happen to Frida, but from my personal experience, I believe that children have an amazing ability to understand and adapt to complex situations.

Frida just lost her mother but she's still a child so she has good and bad moments. When Frida gets to her new home, she goes into a kind of ''survival mode.'' At first, she observes and behaves but little by little she starts challenging her new family, pushing the limits to see how far she can go. She's emotionally frozen, she needs to learn to deal with her own feelings and gain trust with this new family in order to love and be loved again.

Frida also has to accept that there's no magic in the world that will make her mother return. She still has some hope but throughout the film she stops believing in her grandma's religion and in her own beliefs, accepting what death really means.

Q: The film makes the audience reflect about family relationships, would you agree with that?

Carla Simón: Yes. A family is a family. A father is a father, a mother is a mother, a son is a son, a daughter is a daughter and a sibling is a sibling. We hardly question the roots of these relationships, they basically are like that, as we all understand them, as we all live them. However, for Frida and her new family, this obviousness is not so obvious... SUMMER 1993 reflects on the evidence of family relationships through observing how a family has to be reconstructed. Suddenly, an uncle, an aunt, and a cousin have to turn into a father, a mother, and a sister. They become a family overnight, and they have to create, or transform, their already existing relationships. Frida has to find her own place in the family, while Marga and Esteve have to learn to love her as their own child and Anna has to accept a new and older sister. I hope the film will help the audience remember the importance of these basic relationships and value them a bit more.

Summer 1993 Movie Details 🎥


Directed by

Carla Simón

Writing Credits

Carla Simón

Starring

Laia Artigas

Paula Robles

Bruna Cusí

David Verdaguer

Fermí Reixach

Isabel Rocatti

Montse Sanz

Berta Pipó

Etna Campillo

Paula Blanco

Quimet Pla

Jordi Figueras

Music by

Ernest Pipó

Pau Boïgues

Cinematography by

Santiago Racaj

Category: EFA, European Film Award Nominee

Genres: Drama, Family

Country: Spain

Summer 1993 Official Trailer



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