The Summer Of The Electric Lion


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Summer Of The Electric Lion
"Though the story is a small one, the emotional charge crackles with strength."

The Summer Of The Electric Lion (El Verano Del León Eléctrico), which will continue its festival travels at Sundance this month, shows a child's eye view of a religious cult. It's of little interest to 10-year-old Alonso (Gaspar Santibañez) and his older teenage sister Daniela (Lan Fa Salas). They're happy sharing their own world of communication, pulling faces at one another or brushing hair. Or at least they would be, if not for the fact that Daniela is soon to be married to The Lion, who leads the cult their mother (Roxana Naranja) follows.

Writer/director Diego Céspedes - who won the Cinefoundation first prize and in Cannes and Panavision Award in San Sebastian for this short - takes time to show the visual language of love that has built between the siblings, but as they try to ignore events in the adult world going on around them, their childhood playfulness only further emphasises the gathering darkness of the impending marriage.

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The horror of the situation doesn't need to be spelled out, with the scant facts the children seem to know about The Lion - he hates black and can electrocute people simply by touching them - serving to underline the power he has built on the belief of others. This idea of touch as deadly operates in stark contrast to the brother and sister's gestures of comfort. Cinematographers Thomas Woodroffe and Gustavo Yáñez shoot with a languid style that suits the length and heat of the Chilean summer, keeping the focus on the youngsters. Though the story is a small one, the emotional charge crackles with strength.

Reviewed on: 17 Jan 2019
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The Summer Of The Electric Lion packshot
A child's eye view of life in a religious cult.

Director: Diego Céspedes

Writer: Diego Céspedes

Starring: Gaspar Santibañez, Lan Fa Salas, Roxana Naranja

Year: 2018

Runtime: 22 minutes

Country: Chile


Sundance 2019

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