"The sheer humanity absolutely shines through.
Viewing should be compulsory."
Like countless others Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick were labeled 'idiots', locked away and forgotten in violent asylums, until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release - the first time in history that anyone had beaten the system. Together they created L'Arche, a commune at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.
Now in his 80s, and still at L'Arche, Jean has discovered something that most of us have forgotten - what it is to be human, to be foolish, and to be happy.
SUMMER IN THE FOREST invites us to abandon the rat race and forge new friendships. Amid the ancient trees, Philippe, Patrick, Jean and the others welcome us into their lives. If there are rules to break, they will be broken and if there is a truth to be told, they will tell it. Michel reveals his war torn past, Andre is desperate for a date, and young David will prove himself a hero in the fight against the forces of evil.
“His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to affirm his warm support of all initiatives to foster and integrate at the heart of our societies the mentally disabled”
To mark the release of Summer in the Forest the Pope sent this personal message to the producers
Sight & Sound
Using his strength to save the world is David’s top priority. A self-styled super- hero from Royan, David thinks big. He’s not at all interested in being small. When not saving the world, David can be found dancing in his room, working at the packing plant, hanging out with his girlfriend Celine, or watching movies – old Westerns are a particular favourite. Like the cowboys of old, if anyone annoys or threatens his girl, he’s always there to be her hero.
When Celine first arrived at Le Val Fleuri, she was shy and withdrawn, the opposite of boisterous, playful Fred, who immediately caught her eye. The two first spoke on a trip to Lourdes, when she accidentally hit him with a coke bottle, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. In the years they’ve been an item, Celine has emerged from her shell, and the happy couple are about to be engaged. It’s their dream to live together, alone, but close enough to the community to call in for breakfast.
Michel’s earliest memories are of hiding in the basement in his home town of Amiens while bombs fell during the Second World War. From Amiens, he was moved to an asylum*, where he endured years of abusive treatment from wardens - but they couldn’t break him. Michel rebelled, shaving his head and walking 30km to escape. Now living happily in Trosly, calmer and more reflective these days, Michel is still haunted by dark memories of the past.
Andre grew up in a tough, macho household, with a strict father who insisted that Andre should live his life to the full. Over the years, he’s tried his hand at crafts like pottery, weaving and painting - as well as the occasional wrestling match - but amongst his friends at Trosly, Andre feels like he’s finally found his place and has started looking to the future. Most of all he wants to travel, perhaps alongside his best friend Widad, whose company he cherishes during their regular evening meals.
Above all, Sara wants to see people smile and be happy. It’s her passion, both in her community at Ma’an Lil-Hayat, and with her family and friends outside. She loves music, dancing and having a good time, as well as shopping for clothes out in the winding streets of Bethlehem. A natural listener, Sara is a confidante and a rock for all of her friends, an honoured position that she takes very seriously.
Patrick is passionate about food, drink and especially shopping, but his inner thoughts are often enigmatic. Many see him as something of a loner, off on his long solo walks around the village and childhood haunts in Paris, but those who know him well have seen another side to Patrick – one that’s affectionate, caring and often very funny. One day, he may even do what everyone’s been telling him for years, and give up the cigarettes.
Before coming to Ma’an Lil-Hayat, Hilmi was ridiculed and regularly beaten by his peer group and even hostile strangers who did’t understand him or what he’s about. At the centre, he’s is free of all that, and able to indulge in his passions for fashion, crafts and music. Hilmi is often the life and soul of the Bethlehem community, soaking up the attention at parties, though he has a shy side too, and can just as often be found hidden away in the corner, chatting with close friends.
Now 87, Jean has spent more than half his life working and living with the community that he founded in Trosly, an experience that has transformed his life. Once he was a naval officer, but now he dedicates all of his time to the community, be that travelling the world - a task he doesn’t relish, - or wasting time with his friends back at Le Val Fleuri.
“This film represents the best of L’Arche and Jean Vanier. The people shown in this film, Jean, Michel, Patrick, Philippe, and Andre showcase the intricacies of humanity and the beauty of the human spirit. In particular, Jean’s story of how he accepted and included the people who society hid away and forgot reminds us all to live with open hearts and minds. It was a joy to watch and to get to know them.”
Randall Wright has directed over 20 major documentaries, including the critically acclaimed Hockney and the feature length Lucian Freud: A Painted Life, which won an RTS award for best arts documentary, a Grierson nomination, and BAFTA Robert Flaherty nomination.
Patrick studied Fine Art, then took film at the RCA. He has shot many Art documentaries, independent features, TV drama, comedy and commercials. He jointly won the Evening Standard Award and Valladolid Film Festival in Cinematography for Terence Davies' Distant Voices/Still Lives and shot the Prix Italia-nominated I'll Be Your Mirror.
Richard Wilson escaped the BBC 17 years ago and has since produced some 200 films, mostly documentaries, for TV and cinemas around the world. He has won multiple awards in a career that stretches from the South Pole to daytime TV.
Paul Binns is a BAFTA award- winning film editor who trained at the London International Film School. Paul's work includes the films I'll Be Your Mirror, about the photographer, Nan Goldin, and Tell Me The Truth About Love, about the poet W.H.Auden. In 2006 he won the BAFTA Editing Craft Award for the drama- documentary, The Year London Blew Up.
|Mar 27 - Apr 5||Village East Cinema||New York, NY|
|April 6-12||Laemmle Music Hall||Beverly Hills, CA|
|April 6-12||Regal Westpark||Irvine, CA|
|April 6-12||Laemmle Playhouse||Pasadena, CA|
|April 6-12||Laemmle Town Center||Encino, CA|
|April 11||The Prospector Theatre||Ridgefield, CT|
|April 13-19||Violet Crown Cinema||Sante Fe, NM|
|April 13-19||Gateway Film Center||Columbus, OH|
|April 22||Frida Cinema||Santa Ana, CA|
|April 27-May 3||Rialto Elmwood||Berkeley, CA|
|April 27-May 3||Landmark Opera Plaza||San Francisco, CA|
|April 27-May 3||West End Cinema||Washington, DC|
|April 27-May 3||Ritz at the Bourse||Philadelphia, PA|
|April 27-May 3||Catamount Arts||St. Johnsbury, VT|
|April 27-May 3||The Art Theatre||Long Beach, CA|
|April 27-May 3||Summerfield Cinemas||Santa Rosa, CA|
|April 30||The Park Theatre||Vancouver, BC|
|April 30||Cineplex Odeon McGillivray Cinemas and VIP||Winnipeg, MB|
|April 30||Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market Cinemas||Calgary, AB|
|April 30||Cineplex Cinemas Park Lane||Halifax, NS|
|April 30||Cineplex Cinemas Winston Churchill||Oakville, ON|
|April 30||Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP||Toronto, ON|
|April 30||Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas||Ottawa, ON|
|April 30||SilverCity Sudbury Cinemas||Sudbury, ON|
|April 30||Cineplex Odeon Cavendish Mall Cinemas||Montréal, QC|
|April 30||Cinéma Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin||Côte Saint-Luc, QC|
|April 30||The Embassy Theatre||San Antonio, TX|
|May 1||Cedar Lee Theatre||Cleveland, OH|
|May 4-10||Gene Siskel Film Center||Chicago, IL|
|May 10-11||Sie Film Center/Denver Film Society||Denver, CO|
|May 11-17||Landmark Lagoon||Minneapolis, MN|
|May 11-17||Cinema 21||Portland, OR|
|May 17||Princess Cinemas||Waterloo, ON|
|May 18||14 Pews||Houston, TX|
|May 22||The Grand Cinema||Tacoma, WA|
|June 1,3,7,8||Northwest Film Forum||Seattle, WA|
|June 21||St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church - 7pm||Flushing, MI|
|June 21||Pickford Film Center||Bellingham, WA|
|July 2||Vernon Town Center||Vernon, BC|
|July 5||Mary D. Fisher Theater||Sedona, AZ|
"Breathtakingly beautiful... the keynote is joy... It will make you laugh.
It will make you cry. And it will remind you of what it really means to be strong"
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