Summertime: what a common point between this urban musical and Raya and the last …

Released this Wednesday, September 15 in our theaters, “Summertime” is the third feature film directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada, after “Blindspotting” and “Raya and the last dragon”, on which he collaborated.


The lives of 25 young Los Angeles residents intertwine on a hot summer day.


On paper, nothing seems to link Raya and the last dragon, the latest from Disney animation studios that transported us to Asia, and Summertime, an urban and sunny musical located in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Yet we owe them to the same man: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Mexican filmmaker who has just celebrated his 33th birthday.

Noticed thanks to the hard-hitting Blindspotting, which has since given rise to a series, the director recently changed his register to try his hand at animation by assisting Don Hall in the directing of Raya and the Last Dragon. The speech there was obviously less powerful, but it did not feel lost so far.

“[Venir du live action] helped me in the sense that there is a very cinematic approach to animation in Raya, and the concepts of staging the live shots were adapted here “, he explained to us a few months ago, when the film was released. “The way Disney makes films and develops stories is very specific: I knew a lot of the language of animation, without really having had the opportunity to immerse myself in it.”

The sincerity with which these young artists participated in the film has the power to bring about real positive change.

With Summertime, it feels like it’s reverting to real-life shots, but the timing of the timing makes things deceptive. Because if it was released in American theaters on July 9, before doing the same with us on September 15, it was presented at the Sundance Festival in January 2020, and therefore presents itself, in real life, as the second of his feature films in chronological order. But it is ultimately only a detail, which does not detract from the jack-of-all-trades side of its author.

It is by attending a workshop of “spoken word” (centered on the writing of poems and their setting in voice) that Carlos Lopez Estrada has a revelation. As he explains in the press kit, the twenty-five artists present that day were indeed able to put words to the questions he was asking himself. And he offered them to participate in a fiction project in which their texts would allow them to explore their respective relationships with the City of Angels.

In its way of staging minorities to music under a blazing sun, Summertime at first glance resembles a Los Angeles counterpart of the New Yorker D’où we come from, released a few months ago. While there are similarities in the themes, Carlos Lopez Estrada’s film stands out from Jon M. Chu’s in its form. Even more choral, with sequences that are more slam than classic musical, and an overall look of mosaic.

Summertime: what a common point between this urban musical and raya and the last...

Metropolitan FilmExport

The whole thing sometimes lacks binding, but it seduces with its energy and the subjects it addresses, from racism to homosexuality, including insecurity and fame. While revealing a handful of new faces and voices: “The sincerity with which these young artists participated in the film is the kind of sincerity that I believe has the power to bring about real positive change.”, says the director about them, still in the press kit.

Like his two other feature films, Summertime is organized around living together, a key theme in his filmography, which is as young as it is eclectic. And Carlos Lopez Estrada should not fail to prove it to us a little more in the future, since Disney has entrusted him with the reins of a Robin Hood remake for his platform. A film which will mix real shots and animation in synthetic images. With songs?

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