Run time: 98 mins
Bear Winner at Berlin, Carla Simón’s touching debut film explores the raw intricacies of childhood grief.
Based on the Catalan filmmaker’s childhood, Summer 1993 follows six-year-old Frida (Laia Artigas) orphaned after the loss of her mother. Although her uncle Esteve (David Verdaguer) and his family affectionately welcome Frida into their home, the orphan’s move from Barcelona to a rural village is difficult. Simón deftly sets a tone which balances melancholy with hope, capturing light amidst darkness in the sun-drenched Catalan countryside. The director states that Frida “learns something very big about death, she has to start over, but without stopping being a kid” (BFI). Complex moments of new jealousy interlaced with childhood play are found with her three-year-old cousin Anna (the uncannily brilliant Paula Robles).
Summer 1993 favours the small details, rejecting a fast-paced drama for subtlety and depth. Despite their young age, the children’s stunning performances capture the complex inner state of children in a time of loss, change and uncertainty. Translating personal experience onto the big screen, Simón’s debut is a triumph. (research Rachel Williams) Autobiographical film making is hard to trust, but these children are outrageously good, if ‘good’ is the right word for ‘acting’ at 6 and 3!!