Summerland follows the story of fiercely independent folklore investigator Alice (Gemma Arterton), who secludes herself in her clifftop study, debunking myths using science to disprove the existence of magic. Consumed by her work, but also profoundly lonely, she is haunted by a love affair from her past.
When spirited young Frank (Lucas Bond), an evacuee from the London Blitz, is dumped into her irritable care, his innocence and curiosity awaken Alice’s deeply buried emotions. Bravely embracing life’s miraculous unpredictability, Alice learns that wounds may be healed, second chances do occur, and that, just perhaps, magic really does exist.
Set in the 1940s, 1920s and 1970s and filmed along the stunning coastal vistas and villages of Sussex, Summerland is the feature directorial debut of Jessica Swale, who helms her own original script. The acclaimed playwright won an Olivier Award for her play Nell Gwynn, in which the film’s actors Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha Raw both starred.
‘I thought, well I really want to write about imagination and hope. I want to make a film that people can enjoy. I wanted to write a film which had an important message about open-mindedness and the way that innocence and truthfulness and simplicity can actually uncomplicate all of our biases and prejudices.’Jessica Swale, Summerland Director
‘Summerland is a pagan idea of what heaven is,’ explains Swale. ‘It’s a notion of a place that exists alongside ours. And the idea that you can communicate between Summerland and normal life by leaving signs or messing with the edges is something that’s not specifically pagan, that’s borrowed from a notion of lots of different myths and legends. It’s more about what Summerland represents. It represents the possibility of something beyond and of something magical.’
The film is directed by Jessica Swale and stars Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Lucas Bond, Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay.
Summerland is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 30 October 2020.