[Review/Interview] ‘SUMMERTIME’ heats up a vibrant, inspirational spoken-word musical for the age


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Rated R, 95 minutes.
Director: Carlos López Estrada
Cast: Tyris Winter, Austin Antoine, Marquesha Babers, Bryce Banks, Bene’t Benton, Amaya Blankenship, Caedmon Branch, Mila Cuda, Gabriela de Luna, Walter Finnie Jr., Gordon Ip, Sun Park and Maia Mayor

Now playing in select theaters. Visit Good Deed Entertainment’s website to find out where it’s playing near you!

Blindspotting‘s Carlos López Estrada crafts a unique perspective of the world with his latest sociological experiment, Summertime.

Imagine a world where poetry can be found everywhere. You walk down the street, and you see the things that make up home to you. You may feel warm inside, depressed, upset, or confused. Then, suddenly, your truest heart pours out through spoken word. It’s not always the words you want to hear but the words that need to be said. All walks of life step out of the shadows to shine, and everyone shines bright in this vibrant, beautiful and inspirational feat.

With Kelly Marie Tran as executive producer, Summertime is easily one of the year’s very best films. It’s an ensemble piece that features poetry and performances by 27 young Angelenos. Stories and truths intersect and intertwine as they each make their way around Los Angeles. The voices hit hard in their individual moments, speaking of what makes home feel like home (“…the 4 a.m. ticks of my mother’s footsteps…”), but they also bounce from one person to the next and come together with incredible grace.

Summertime is a celebration of life that makes you want to be more honest with yourself and the people around you. We all face challenges and difficulties, and Estrada’s work highlights life’s struggles through soul-piercing words and stunning visual articulation. However, the filmmaker also takes time to capture the beauty of coming together. Some of the world’s most extraordinary magic is when you have an exchange with someone you’ve never met. You relate to each other and don’t feel so alone.

Run to this film as soon as you can and allow it to carry you to a special place that you’ll not soon forget.

Grade: A+

Our Interview with ‘SUMMERTIME’ Filmmakers

To celebrate the film’s release, Fresh Fiction sat down with director Carlos López Estrada and executive producer Kelly Marie Tran (both of whom worked together on Raya and the Last Dragon). We discuss the film’s heart and rhythm, the ways in which it causes you to look inward, and treasured encounters with strangers. Enjoy the conversation below and soak up Summertime this weekend!

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.