10th Annual Cine LatinoIn Focus: Carla Simón

By Jan Willms
Subject: Carla Simón, director of Summer 1993

In her feature debut that will open the Cine Latino Festival, director Carla Simón reaches back to her own childhood to tell the story of a child who is orphaned, and her troubled life with her new family.

“This is the most personal story I have ever told, the one that takes my own memories as a starting point,” she said.

Simón said she is part of an extensive family full of stories. “Watching their relationships and listening to their stories is how I decided I wanted to make films, to show the complexity of the human condition and the complexity of family relationships in particular,” she stated. “Actually, making films makes me look at life in a particular way; it makes me pay attention to little details, observe the people that surround me, give more value to my relationships and learn about humanity. That’s why I love making films!”

Summer 1993 tells Simón’s own story. “I lost my mother when I was six years old, and I had lost my father when I was three. They both died of AIDS, which was a very big thing in Spain at that time. In summer 1993 I moved in with my new family; my mum’s brother, his wife and their child.”

Simón said making the film was a very beautiful process, because she felt it made her grow, both professionally and personally. “It made me learn more about my family and how they felt, about my place, about myself. When I started writing the script, I tried to put my memories together. However, when a kid experiences something like that, the memories get erased to give him or her the opportunity to start over again.”

“My memories were very confusing,” Simón said. “I basically remembered feelings and emotions, but I had few images that revealed that period of my life. That’s why it was very important for me to talk to my family; they explained to me plenty of anecdotes, and some of them are in the film. Also, the pictures of my childhood played a very important role in the reconstruction of the story, since they expressed the mood and the feeling of the story.”

Simón said she is now 30, and her mom died when she was six. “I have had enough time to grieve my mum’s death,” she said. “Actually, I had the luck to grow up In a very safe environment where I was always able to talk about my past in a very open way,” Simon recalled. “So I don’t feel I needed to make this film to heal something. I just needed to talk about how a child faces death from my perspective.” She said she needed to tell how a six-year-old girl is intelligent enough to understand what death means, the fact that it’s universal and irreversible. “I also wanted to show children’s huge capacity of adapting into new situations. At the same time I wanted to point out the difficulties that children have to manage with