Summer 1993 (12A)

Oct 09, 2019
Anson Paul

A stunning drama about a childhood ripped apart, this autobiographical directorial debut from Carla Simón is complex and yet simple at the same time. The performances from the children are beguiling and this is a warm and sensitive film about loneliness and confusion.


Ultimately, this is a memorable look at our desire to love and feel safe, to connect and belong — and the unexpected ways in which families can reshape and grow.” – Los Angeles Times.

Summer 1993 is a touching autobiographical film by Catalan writer/director, Carla Simón. Six-year-old Frida’s (Laia Artigas) mother has died. We see her move from her home in Barcelona at life with her Aunt Marga (Bruna Cusi), Uncle Esteve (David Verdaguer) and younger Cousin Anna (Paula Robles) in the country.

This is a thoughtful, light-filled and atmospheric film. The girls are beautiful and stunningly well cast. The care taken in casting the girls is so evident and indeed Laia Artigas was the second to last girl auditioned for the role of Frida out of almost one thousand. Frida is at times exuberant, defiant and puzzled. She both exasperates us and touches our hearts, and the hearts of her Aunt and Uncle. Cinematographer Santiago Racaj treats his camera as a living, breathing observer, often viewing the world at Frida’s level. Early in the film Frida is mostly seen alone, but more share the little girl’s frame as the film progresses, as her disorientation and uncertainty thankfully subside. This is truly a film about a child hearing much and understanding only part of it, of recovery and love.

Visually this is a great film. It has a timeless contemporary feel to it. The story feels real, and indeed in part it is a retelling of the writer’s own grief and loss. It is not sentimental or trite, but lovely to watch and to listen to. Salvador Pipó wrote the music. Sometimes it is slow, sometimes it meanders, but that is how children are in long warm summers.

In short, Summer 1993 is a human story told in a uniquely vivid way. It reminds us of other child centred portraits such as the acclaimed 1973 drama “The Spirit of the Beehive” and 1996’s award-winning “Ponette”, and was a great début for Simón. It premiered in the Generation section at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the GWFF Best First Feature Award.[3] It was selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.


            Weighted vote 79.43%