Sangaile (Julija Steponaityte) meets Auste (Aiste Dirziute) one summer and the two girls almost immediately become friends, which leads to them also becoming lovers. Sangaile has spent a lot of time being miserable, as shown by the scars from the cuts she has made on her arms. Auste can see something else in Sangaile, however, and attempts to change her mindset. This involves also doing her best to help Sangaile overcome the vertigo that stops her from enjoying her biggest passion, planes being put through some acrobatic manoeuvres by stunt pilots.
Written and directed by Alante Kavaite, The Summer Of Sangaile is one of those films that doesn’t have too much to say, but it says it well. This isn’t about an aspect of humanity that we all share (although, obviously, it kind of IS that too). It’s not a major statement on some world issue. No, this is simply all about Sangaile, and that is enough.
If the leads weren’t immensely likable and believable then the film wouldn’t work, so it’s a relief to tell you that both Steponaityte and Dirziute are immensely likable and appealing. The two girls expertly portray their different strengths and weaknesses, making their pairing an obvious, winning one. Steponaityte may have to do the fragile, crushed butterfly for a while, but she does it well. Dirziute, on the other hand, comes onscreen as a flash of bright energy, and stays that way for most of the film.
Despite the fantastic lead performances, The Summer Of Sangaile would be just yet another small film to add to the pile of small films that can be seen during festival if it wasn’t for one major plus point. The aerial cinematography. While Sangaile is watching from the ground, the camera takes some time to look skywards and show off the skills of the pilots that she is looking up to. That’s nice enough, but things get even better when Sangaile decides to try it out for herself (or, rather, is pushed into finally trying it out by Auste). The camera gets right inside the cockpit with her, taking viewers along for every climb, swoop, loop the loop, and barrel roll. There are also other shots, away from the planes, in which the camera soars far above ground level, signifying the heights that Sangaile wishes to reach, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacle that is her vertigo.
Most probably destined to be forgotten outwith the festival circuit, Alante Kavaite has at least created a nice mix of fun, passion, angst, and daring. It just also happens to be something very slight.
The Summer Of Sangaile screened at EIFF 2015.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: ALANTE KAVAITE
STARS: JULIJA STEPONAITYTE, AISTE DIRZIUTE
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX