My First Summer
Drama, 1 h 20 min
First Love, First Breath
“Beautiful Claudia. Now is the time to explore who you really are. Play, experiment, be colourful and messy and free. I’ll be right here by your side. I purple promise. Love G.”
When you have no reference point in your life, but your mother’s point of view; a mother who shielded you from the rest of the world and made you a willing prisoner of her own – a world where her perception dictates everyday narration and where her past hurt creates a cozy secluded bubble – how painful and exciting at the same time must it be to have that burst in front of your eyes while simultaneously be invited into a brand new sweet world? My First Summer is a brave exploration of letting go of the known and diving into the colourfully sweet unknown. The film, written and directed by Katie Found, is Found’s debut feature film. It shows off an assortment of brilliant talent in the likes of Marcella Kavenagh, Maiah Stewardson, Edwina Wren, Katherine Tonkin, Arthur Angel, Steve Mouzakis and Harvey Zielinski. With a ray of colourful sunshine, My First Summer masterfully deals with sweet exploration of freedom, youthful curiosity and excruciatingly painful loss. With a glass shattering power, it gorgeously paints a truly unique world of sweet emotions.
Claudia has lived in a picturesque house on a secluded piece of land, close to a river, with no one else but her mother by her side all her life: “My mother said the fences were the walls of her womb. She said she could only protect me if I stayed inside, away from everyone, from everything.”. Her mother, a well-known writer, appears to have gone through some painful hardship in her life and had done everything to protect her daughter from the pain she had had experienced. Despite her well-intentioned attempts to keep her daughter safe, we cannot help but wonder whether her mother’s past pain might have severely blurred her decisions. Claudia describes her mother’s suicide and her own mournful guilt of not joining her: “My mother said there would come a time when we would have to leave. We talked about it for months. About how we would be light again, without pain. But when the time came, I couldn’t do it. I left her sinking further and further and further.” Claudia, instructed by her mother “to hold on tight and not let go. No matter what. Never let go”, feels immense despair.
With her mother deceased, Claudia remains alone in a lovely secluded house with her dog Tilly keeping her company. Torn by grief, she is rescued by a colourful, sweet and delightfully free bit of fresh air called Grace. She appears at Claudia’s doorstep like a long-haired Rapuntzel–resembling mirage in a pink tulle dress, colourful T-shirt and flamboyant bijouterie: “Can I come and visit you sometime?”Claudia is afraid of the consequences of anyone knowing she exists: “No one can know I’m here. If they find out, they’ll take me away.” Grace promises she “won’t tell anyone. It can be our secret.” Together they make a “Purple promise.” In fact, Claudia is with us because of something that pulled her out of the murkiness and pushed her back to life: “It was her, Grace. The glow on the bank. The pull from the trees.”
Together, the two girls explore their newly found freedom, safe, away from the hurt and pain of the outside world. It is with this naïve child-like innocence that they enjoy their lives now. They become each other’s partners, best friends and confidantes most people can only yearn for. Together, they found a safe space. Claudia has discovered a world outside her fences and Grace has escaped her mother’s intrusive boyfriend. Grace best describes their trust by saying: “Haven’t you ever heard of pinky promise? Well, it means more than a normal handshake”. My First Summer is a delightfully unique coming out story of two girls. The film will definitely take you on a journey beyond comparison – a journey to the days when everything was a achievable, a trip where life seemed like a breeze and the air bore the hope of immense possibility. Their teenage carelessness and aspiration makes this film a perfect cocktail of intriguing emotions one needs to revisit to remember one’s past and to establish one’s present.
In her first feature film, Katie Found beautifully deals with the topics of love, pain and freedom. She intelligently peals layers of youthful emotions and strips them of debris. I am loving the dialog which is beyond exceptional. My First Summer, masterfully written by Found, gorgeously shot and wonderfully cast is a treat for the soul and for the eyes. I cannot wait for Found’s next film – I am absolutely positive she will pleasantly delight us.
Watch the trailer
This article was written by:
Melita is a huge film-buff. She spends every waking hour hunting for premieres, watching and reviewing them. She is an avid reviewer and film artist, having created her own films. With multiple degrees in performance art, languages, literature and gender studies, she has been a very vocal equal rights advocate since she was a child. She considers herself a feminist.