I’m not entirely sure what word first comes to mind when I think of this short film, so beautifully written and directed by Pearl Gluck. The film has an essence of nostalgia, I think, for all women. Summer is explorative, full of softness and innocence, and yet there is something unkind that subtly drifts in the background. It is reminiscent, yet pertinent. It tells a story that hits home, but doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. The message is quiet, but extremely powerful, and I must say I haven’t quite seen anything like it.
Summer tells the story of two teenage girls at a Hasidic sleep-away camp, where the teachings are more than just religious and spiritual, but also focus on the importance of purity. Curious about their bodies and desires, the girls come across a forbidden book and experience a sexual awakening that neither expects. It leads to the question: can a girl have a crush on another girl?
This film is so beautifully and masterfully crafted. The story is all about exploration and curiosity, especially at an age where your body is changing. It asks us to not only question certain religious teachings, but teachings in general, specifically when it comes to sexual education. In this film, the girls cannot get the answers they seek from adults, so they seek it elsewhere. Here, they find it in a book. But in what is now the information age, with any answer to every question a mere internet connection away, it is more important than ever to make sure kids are being taught about sex. Because while there are a lot of great resources on the internet, there’s too many bad ones to count.
And then, of course, it asks us to look at sexuality. There’s one line specifically in this short that comes to mind when thinking of this topic.
“If you didn’t like boys, something would be wrong, so be happy that you’re normal.”
It is said in a comforting, almost uplifting tone, but the reality is so different. It is different for anyone who has ever in their lifetime questioned their sexuality. Especially if they are in a family/community that believes it is sinful. We watch as one of the main characters, Shani, is told that she will understand when she grows up, that it’s simply not possible for a girl to have a crush on another girl, and we watch as her face falls at these words. It’s a true testament to the actress, Juliet Brett, and her acting abilities. Without saying a word, we are able to see the struggle she faces. The questions in her eyes as she wonders if there’s something wrong with her, since it apparently isn’t possible to feel the things she does.
It’s a reality that far too many face in their everyday lives, especially those in religious communities. Summer captures that truth in such a real way, but what’s so interesting is the way it’s done. It isn’t in your face. It’s subtle. It is quiet in its questioning, and I think that’s what makes it so powerful. With stunning cinematography and an incredible story to tell, Summer is, without a doubt, a must-see. Definitely add this to your list.
Watch The Trailer For Summer Now.