Summertime: Estrada’s Follow-Up to Blindspotting (Sundance Film Fest 2020)

Sundance Film Fest 2020–Two years after he debuted his first feature, Blindspotting, at the Sundance Film Fest, Carlos López Estrada returned with Summertime, an odyssey through Los Angeles boasting a huge ensemble of characters, including taggers, cooks, and would-be-rappers.

The tale is set during one hot, life-changing summer day.

At the Q&A after the screening, Estrada described the film, which was a collaboration with 27 young poets, as a “miracle movie.”

After attending a Get Lit teen poetry program some months ago, Estrada said, “We saw these people talking about things that were important to them in a way that was creative and beautiful. I walked out of that meeting saying, ‘I hope there’s a way we can help other people experience what we just experienced.’”

He wanted to make a movie that wove together these wildly disparate personal stories, but he had no script, no stars, and no financing. “We basically sold the movie on a three-sentence pitch,” he said. “‘We know these poets, they’re incredible, we think there’s something here. Ninety percent of them are leaving for college in three months, so the only way this can happen if we start working on it tomorrow. Can you trust that this is worth your time?’ I will never understand why, but our producers said yes.”

A “free-verse poem” of a film, Summertime blends the humor and sadness of Blindspotting with a roving approach to storytelling. Like Richard Linklater’s landmark Austin-based film, Slackers, which had premiered at the Sundance Film Fest in 1991, Summertime is a jubilant celebration of the city in which it was shot, a singular movie that couldn’t be made anywhere else.

The film begins at Venice Beach and travels through downtown LA, Los Feliz, Crenshaw, Hollywood Boulevard, and other spots.

At times the poems are songs about LA, love, heartbreak, and getting stuck in traffic.