Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Alessandra Lacorazza, the Writer-Director Behind “In The Summers”

by Bailey Pennick

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there’s always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our ongoing series: Give Me the Backstory!

When asked about one thing that people don’t know about her, Alessandra Lacorazza offers up her secret skill: “I’m excellent at untying knots.” The writer-director of In The Summers assumes that no one knows about her nimbleness, but after the release of her debut feature, Lacorazza’s abilities won’t be such a secret anymore. 

With its premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, Lacorazza deftly unties the knots of her own complicated childhood memories. “After my father died unexpectedly I had a lot of anger and unanswered questions,” she says. “Making this film was a way to access those answers.” In The Summers follows the story of Violeta (Sasha Calle) and Eva (Mutt’s Lío Mehiel) as they spend their summers with their father (René Pérez Joglar), whose troubled past complicates their relationship.

Beyond the emotional knots, as a first-time filmmaker, Lacorazza had to pull apart all the threads of actually being able to tell her story. “It was all a big challenge,” she explains. “First time filmmaker, queer, latin, making a film that spans different time periods, with children, a first time actor in the lead role, shooting in the desert during the summer heat, with of course, not enough money. But we did it and I’m very proud of the outcome.” Lacorazza even has advice for her future self: “ Also, note to self, avoid any scenes with cars.”

Below learn more about who Lacorazza hopes to reach with In The Summers, her history with Sundance Collab, and how she got into filmmaking in the first place.

Tell us why and how you got into filmmaking.

The 2008 recession made it seem like everything was going to shit, so I might as well do what I always wanted to do instead of trying to have a safe, normal job. Apparently those don’t exist. 

Why is filmmaking important to you? Why is it important to the world?

The world needs more contemplation. Art, and film specifically, allows for that. 

Films are lasting artistic legacies; what do you want yours to say?

Things aren’t black and white, there are many shades of gray. 

Tell us an anecdote about casting or working with your actors for In the Summers.

Working with my casting director, Stephanie Yankwitt, was a joy. We worked for so long on the casting for this project. It was a delicate puzzle piece and I still feel like we achieved a small miracle. 

All my actors were incredible. Working with them was a highlight. The two youngest sisters filled the set with joy and helped make the long hours more enjoyable.

Your favorite part of making the film? Memories from the process?

I both enjoyed and suffered through each phase of the process. As a first-time filmmaker everything felt so new, raw, and insurmountable. I remember thinking after the first day that there was no way I could do this for 30 more days. But then I stopped thinking about the future and just focused on the next day. Before long it was my last day with actors, just before day break, calling cut on the last shot, and drinking a beer as the sun came up. 

But my favorite part was editing. It’s my background and where I felt the most confident. Plus my editor Adam Dicterow was the perfect collaborator. 

Describe who you want In The Summers to reach.

Children of complicated but beautiful parents. Parents who are trying their best despite everything. 

What is something that all filmmakers should keep in mind in order to become better cinematic storytellers?

I’m still learning the craft, but I think it’s important to have a clear vision. There are so many decisions that need to be made every step of the way. Without a clear vision it’s easy to lose sight of your film. 

Tell us about your history with Sundance Institute. Why did you want your film to premiere with us?

Besides applying to the Festival and Labs, my interactions were with Sundance Collab. I took the Directing: Visual Storytelling and the Directing Actors courses. 

I wanted to premiere at Sundance because it is at the heart of independent cinema. Plus everyone says it’s a very good time.

Who was the first person you told when you learned you got into the Sundance Film Festival?

Would you believe me if I said I called everyone at the exact same time because everyone is super important and I don’t have favorites? 

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