Summertime (2021) 1h 35m / R / Musical Compilation
A lo-fi, high-ingenuity collaborative endeavor between director Carlos Lopéz Estrada (Blindspotting) and more than two dozen Angelenos from underrepresented backgrounds — female, black, Latinx, Korean American, queer — this fleet-footed, kaleidoscopic showcase was inspired by a poetry event Estrada, in which performers from across Los Angeles recited fearlessly personal texts about themselves, their communities, and their relationship to their city. That group of poets, Get Lit, uses poetry to “increase literacy, empower youth and inspire communities.” And in Summertime, they star in a series of loosely connected episodes developed around their individual poems and interwoven into a larger, unified, moving narrative experiment — part long-form poetry slam, part contemporary musical and part sociological art-film.
Your hapless writer finds himself unable to name the patterns of interest and behavior in people in their teens and early twenties without sounding like a “kids these days” curmudgeon — please bear with us through the next two words. Youth culture is more preoccupied with finding your authentic self through public, performative exploration of different personas (and cutting edge video technology) than ever. Summertime manifests a version of that exploration that’s less polished and closer to the heart than your off-the-shelf Broadway coming-of-age musical. And casting a group of brilliant young people in the City of Angels, bringing with them a panoply of perspectives marginalized by mainstream media, sends the message that Summertime wants the world to start appreciating what it doesn’t know about those it hears from far too seldom.