Michael Ward on Monday, May 21
Selected by Spain to compete for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this past year (the film unfortunately did not receive a nomination), Carla Simón's Summer 1993 is a quiet, contemplative, observant story of a 6-year-old girl who becomes an orphan when her mother succumbs to the AIDS virus.
Frida (Laia Artigas), 6 years old, is sent to live with her aunt and uncle and begin a new life. Simón steps back and just allows her camera to observe the adjustments and new connections made, frayed, and re-made again. Simón's film is autobiographical and for her feature film debut, she clearly recognizes a trust with her audience and has an innate ability to tell her story through the prism of a 6-year-old girl.
Artigas' performance is captivating, her expressiveness telling us everything we need to know, even if and when words don't come all that easily for Frida.
For some, Summer 1993 will be a plodding affair, slice-of-life films often must overcome a few more hurdles sometimes when making an audience care about everyday events and situations. And there are times when I did wish that Simón nudged things along a bit more.
However, she is unafraid to show us people being people - when Frida lashes out, when her aunt and uncle become frustrated or when they talk about her with her sitting in the same room. Summer 1993 is a movie where a family dynamic becomes reinvented before our very eyes and in the film's final moments, we see a powerful, unforgettable cathartic release that speaks for all involved.
Starring: Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer
Director: Carla Simón
Running Time: 97 Minutes
May 25 | SIFF Cinema Uptown | 1:30 PM
May 26 | SIFF Egyptian | 6:30 PM