A Year Without Summer

1816 – A young peasant girl and her family face a year without summer.


1815 - The Indonesian volcano Tambora erupts. The ejected ashes create an invisible veil that slowly envelops the globe. One year later. Somewhere in Europe lives Anna (16), the oldest daughter of a large peasant family. Like every spring, completely unaware of the catastrophe, they begin the hard work in the fields. However, Anna dreams of a life far away from the farm. When the mother dies unexpectedly during childbirth, the responsibility falls on Anna. Along with her mother’s passing, the first effects of the volcanic eruption start to manifest themselves. Nature begins to change. Heavy rains flood the fields. Temperatures keep dropping until, in the middle of summer, it begins to snow. Heavy snowstorms drag on into autumn and destroy the annual harvest. Stories of rising chaos in the cities and rumours about the end of the world threaten the father to lose his faith and his mind. Anna remains the one holding the family together. With the arrival of winter, the pantries are empty. Death is omnipresent and also knocks on Anna’s family’s door. Hope for a new spring is all that remains. A portrait of a girl who in a year without summer, becomes a mother, a man, an animal and in the end, a woman.


I intentionally tell this global story from the perspective of one peasant family. The "simple life" is what interests me. People who lived with the cycles of nature and who never learned about the cause of this catastrophe. I grew up in the countryside in a family of seven children. Seeing the suffering of the people you love and the questions death raises, is something that occupies me a lot. In my films, death is always a central topic. In search of answers, I would like to look at life, the world and basic human needs in their beauty, simplicity but also, in their cruelty. Together with my brother and cinematographer Silvan Giger, we use a reduced visual language to create a sensual immersion that allows the audience to take part in Anna's world. I believe that by looking into the past we can perhaps find answers to questions that shape our society today, and us as people.

ScriptLab 2022
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