Summertime follows 27 youth spoken word poets over a single day in Los Angeles. Through poetry they express life, love, heartache, family, home, and fear. Through it all, these young people are just trying to find their way back home. For each of them, home means something different.
Inspired by a spoken-word showcase, Get Lit, featuring 25 diverse high school performers, Director Carlos López Estrada interweaves these young artists’ narratives, creating a beautiful expression in relationship to Los Angeles. During this showcase young poets performed works about themselves and their communities.
“Watching Summertime was like falling in love for the first time. It’s a love letter to Los Angeles and to the many incredible artists and individuals living in it. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with these incredible poets — fully, completely, and inexplicably — the way I did.” – Kelly Marie Tran-Executive Producer.
In Summertime, a skating guitarist, a tagger, two wannabe rappers, an exasperated fast-food worker, a limo driver use the art of spoken word to communicate their thoughts on life, love, heartbreak, rejection and more similar to a musical. The result is a beautiful long form poem filled with exhilarating crescendos and deeply eloquent lows. Particularly moving was Marquesha Babers, who confronts her crush with a beautiful and powerful poem, “Shallow” to take her power back from the man who not only rejected her but crushed her self-esteem. “it’s pouring and storming and you ran off with my umbrella she says through her tears, I like to go deep see diving and you’re just a little too shallow”
Summertime features young spoken word artists, many who are making their first film debut. Each poem and spoken word piece was inspired by their real lives. Paolina Acuna-Gonzalez, expresses her anger and frustration at her mother who presses the idea of respectability as a Latina Woman because Paolina loves to wear red lipstick. Tyris Winter simply wants a burger in this new gentrified Los Angeles but deeply longs for the family who rejected him. Aspiring rappers, Anewbyss and Rah (Bryce Banks and Austin Antoine) want money and fame but find not all that glitters is gold when success finally comes.
Not quite a musical, Summertime, has a certain uniqueness in how it weaves so many different stories together. While focused on Los Angeles, Summertime is a striking, humorous and sometimes poignant look inside a generations thoughts on urban communities everywhere.
These real life spoken word artists brilliantly and powerfully paint pictures with their words and the end result is a stunning work of art.
Summertime premiers at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago Friday, July 16th. For more on Summertime visit their website.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 or @DanieSandersOfficial.