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Short of the Week: François Ozon's 1996 film 'A Summer Dress'

A Summer Dress
3.5

French filmmaker François Ozon has gained a reputation as one of the most talented artists from the cinema du corps (or cinema of the body) movement in France. Ozon’s dark comedies like 8 femmes and erotic thrillers such as Swimming Pool have garnered widespread critical acclaim. By utilising the power of the cinematic medium, Ozon has explored questions about sexuality as well as the human condition.

Ozon’s 1996 short film A Summer Dress belongs to a period when he was entering the world of cinema through short films after graduating from film school in France. A Summer Dress is a beautiful coming-of-age story about a young boy who embarks on a journey of sexual exploration while vacationing by the beach during the summer.

Told in a poetically simple manner, Ozon deconstructs the rigid demarcations of the heteronormative system and shows how fluid gender roles can be. These questions are clearly important to him since the filmmaker has continued similar investigations in his latest film Summer of 85 (2020). A Summer Dress ended up winning several prestigious accolades at film festivals around the world and established Ozon as a director to watch out for.

“My films are very often about the search for identity,” Ozon elaborated. “It’s true that very often during shooting I add some scenes in which the characters are alone to help the audience experience this journey. Sometimes all you need is a close-up of the face of your actor. You don’t ask him or her to act but you know that you can use the scene during the editing.”

He added: “A film needs some blanc moments like this, to give you the opportunity to think, to project some feelings, and make a bond… It’s not about the genre for me. It’s about the story every time. When I’m attracted to a story, then I find a genre to fit it, or to adapt it to. So if something comes up that fits a science fiction movie, then, sure, I would do it. Anything can happen! But, for me, the story always comes first.”

Watch François Ozon’s delightful short film below.

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