And What is the Summer Saying
Payal Kapadia’s most recent film defies easy description. The question posed by the film’s title—and spoken enigmatically by one of the film’s subjects—is answered through the intricate tapestry of sound wedded together by Kapadia into a rich collage.
Disembodied voices float on top of sharp, mostly black and white cinematography, showing scenes of daily life in a small village on the edge of a forest. It’s never made clear who is speaking, or who is meant to be listening, but these random snatches of speech contribute to the vivaciousness and universality of the film’s perspective. That they are heard throughout a film in which we are also watching dogs, cows, bees or other non-human animals alone within the frame, contributes to the horizontality of all the living beings within the film.
As the third highly accomplished, cinematically rich and sonically dense short film made by Payal Kapadia within the span of four years, And What is the Summer Saying provides further evidence of the trademark themes and aesthetic techniques across her work as a whole. In addition to the colourful sonic palette, we see the recurring images of darkness and nighttime; the familiar spaces—or sometimes evocations of—deep forest and quiet village; the visual and symbolic resonance of clouds, fog or smoke; the reflexivity of memory and the vitality of its sensory impulses; and the mixed textures of live cinematography and drawn, painted or otherwise constructed images.
Rather than becoming rote or predictable, Payal Kapadia’s use of these trademarks across her films is significantly diverse in form, style and expression, and as such point to the strength and versatility of her filmmaking. And What is the Summer Saying beautifully caps this informal trilogy, which should be seen as the first major cinematic statement—with many more to come—by the young and talented filmmaker Payal Kapadia. —Herb Shellenberger
Payal Kapadia (India) is a filmmaker and artist based in Mumbai. She studied Film Direction at the Film and Television Institute of India. Her work deals with that which is not easily visible, hidden somewhere in the folds of memory and dreams. It is between minor, ephemeral feminine gestures where she tries to find the truth that makes up her practice. In 2017, her film Afternoon Clouds premiered at Cannes film Festival in the Cinefondation selection; in 2018, her experimental documentary And What is the Summer Saying had its world premiere at the Berlinale Shorts. The latter went on to receive the Special Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam the same year. Kapadia’s experimental short The Last Mango Before Monsoon premiered at Oberhausen International Film Festival in 2015, where she was awarded FIPRESCI Prize and Special Jury Prize. The film received other awards including Best Film and Best Editing at Mumbai International Film Festival in 2016 and Special Mention at Filmadrid. Currently, Payal is working on making her first feature film All We Imagine as Light, which she developed at the Cinefondation Cannes Residency between 2019-20 and is supported by the Hubert Bals Script and Project Development Fund.
And What is the Summer Saying (2018) Afternoon Clouds (2017), The Last Mango Before the Monsoon (2015)