At first glance a charmingly slight ditty about the lazy Summer of two Italian teenagers in the countryside, Alessandro Comodin's debut feature only truly reveals its import with time, its layers opening up slowly as the viewer realizes the full extent of its writer/director's experimenting with conventional genre tropes. At first sight it's an immersive documentary following the Summer days of deaf teenager Giacomo and his friend Stefania, observing the way the boy navigates nature with his disability and making the viewer ask if Giacomo's deafness is his only disability.

     It turns out, though, that the apparently freeform assemblage of scenes is actually a fictional account, where Mr. Comodin has Giacomo - who is truly deaf and an old friend of his - and Stefania - his own sister - recreate his own Summer in the Italian countryside near where he was born, with Giacomo's disability adding an extra layer to the film. The resulting poetic sensibility - with the sun-dappled visuals suggesting a sensual seventies sensibility, a world being created as the two teenagers uncover it - has a lot in common with recent avant-garde experiments or the now customary cinéma du réel superimpositions between documentary, fiction and essay.

     It's tempting to think of recent Italian directors such as Michelangelo Frammartino and Pietro Marcello, but L'Estate di Giacomo's beauty is very much its own, and is also inseparable from its own sensory approach and from its deliberately ethereal slightness - it probably wouldn't support any lengthier running time, and that's all for the good.

Giacomo Zulian, Stefania Comodin, Barbara Colombo.
     Director/writer, Alessandro Comodin; cinematography, Tristan Bordmann (color, post-production by DeJonghe); editors, João Nicolau, Mr. Comodin; producers, Paolo Benzi, Mr. Comodin, Marie Géhin, Réjane Michel, Valérianne Boué (Faber Film, Les Films Nus and Les Films d'Ici in co-production with Wallpaper Production, Centre de l'Audiovisuel à Bruxelles and Tucker Film), Italy/France/Belgium, 2011, 78 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 12th 2012. 


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