Click here to watch the YourScreen interview with Summer Survivors Director Marija Kavtaradze.
Indre is an ambitious psychology post-grad, keen to work alongside Dr Dumauskas, the unconventional head clinician of a mental health treatment centre. She’s more interested in data analysis than in rubbing shoulders with the patients. Dumauskas feels she needs to get her hands dirty, so promises more access to the data if she agrees to drive two acutely suffering patients to another clinic on the other side of the country (Lithuania). The deal is struck and a begrudging Indre sets out with Juste, who is recovering from a suicide attempt but insists she isn’t sick, and Paulius, suffering from bi-polar disorder and voluntarily mute. This is road movie as therapy, as, brought together in the confines of their car, hints of healing for all three gradually emerge.
This sensitive and beautifully filmed examination of the everyday burdens of living with mental illness asserts that the line between those who are diagnosed and those who are not isn’t as clear-cut as one might think. In a sense, Indre is as much suffering as her charges, and the human connections and fragile hope that blossom as their journey progresses is wonderfully articulated by outstanding performances and an unhistrionic tone. Amongst its five international awards, Summer Survivors won the Audience Award at the 2019 Festival del Cinema Europeo.
“The more films there are like Summer Survivors, the more these stigmas will steadily begin to dissipate. Happily, the film isn’t just a hollow method of delivery for its message. It’s a genuinely moving, skilfully executed cinematic experience, marking Kavtaradze as a talent to follow.” Teresa Nieman, Screen Anarchy.
“What Summer Survivors does so well is show the extent to which mental illness is a merciless vortex. It’s one that can, at times, be hidden by a smile and a joke, but continues to spin, regardless of the survivor’s best efforts to stop it.” - Tomas Trussow, Film Inquiry.
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