‘Summer 1993’: How to Shoot an Award-Winning Film About Your Own Life

This post is by Emily Buder from No Film School

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‘Summer 1993’ director Carla Simón reveals the complex process of weaving her memory into fiction.

When one experiences trauma as a child, it can be difficult to talk about well into adulthood. Carla Simón decided to turn her childhood trauma into a cinematic memoir. Summer 1993, Simón’s new film, is the autobiographical story of the summer she was orphaned. At six years old, Simón, in the film named Frida, left Barcelona to live with her aunt in the Catalonian countryside. She is old enough to understand the concept of death—in fact, she is obsessed asking questions about the myriad ways a person can be killed—but far too young to contend with it emotionally.

Simón masterfully embodies the perspective of a child. The camera is tethered to Frida’s subjectivity while the adults around her constantly minimize it; they talk about and take pity on the young child, hovering just out of frame while we remain rooted on Frida’s face as it searches for answers but never finds them. Not since Jacques Doillon’s 1996 film Ponette has cinema seen such a heartrending portrait of the interior life of a grieving child.

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