Description from TIFF 2006 catalog by Thom Powers:

The bus is leaving and you don~t want to miss this ride. We~re taking a trip back to summer, back to nature, and back to childhood.

Summercamp! evokes everything that~s magic and tragic about coming of age. The film follows a group of average, middle-class kids over three weeks at a Wisconsin nature camp. The premise is deceptively simple: these kids aren~t competing in any spelling bee or ballroom-dancing championship; they~re just searching for their own place in the world.

The timeless camp experiences of hazing and flirting come with modern twists. One boy with braces chats up a cute blonde by telling her, “I~m the strongest case of ADD extreme that my doctor has ever seen.” To these kids, the brand names of mood stabilizers are as familiar as Hershey or Nike. The campers candidly reveal hopes and insecurities. “It sucks now,” says Cameron, a chubby thirteen-year-old with a penchant for trouble, “and I don~t want it to suck for the rest of my life.” Another girl says she~s there “to make new friends, because no one in my school really likes me.”

One prominent motif is the chickadee, or rather, its elusiveness. Holly, an eccentric girl with mesmerizing eyes, has a curious attachment to the birds. Whenever she spots one, she never has witnesses. Her quest starts out small and quirky, but gradually builds into something unexpected and profound. Hill Stomp Hollar (00), Okie Noodling (01), which played at the Festival in 2001, and Summercamp! (06).

Directors Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price take an observational approach, rich in visual detail. Alternating between digital video and 16mm film, the imagery “~ from dreadful camp food to gorgeous sunsets “~ taps into something archetypal. Price returns to the Festival following appearances with two previous films, American Movie and The Yes Men. Beesley previously directed Fearless Freaks, the documentary about The Flaming Lips; one critic described the film and the band~s music as “heart-warming (and breaking).” The Lips contribute songs to the enchanting Summercamp! score.

By the end, when the buses pull up to take the kids home, you~ll feel the urge to join the counsellors hugging them goodbye.

About the directors:
Sarah Price was born in Virginia, and received her B.A. from the University of Iowa and her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin “~ both in film. She served as sound recordist on Michael Moore~s The Big One (97) before directing American Movie (co-director, 99), Caesar~s Park (00), and The Yes Men (co-director, 03), which screened at the Festival in 2003. Summercamp! (co-director, 06) is her latest documentary.

Bradley Beesley grew up in Norman, Oklahoma. His longtime collaboration with the band The Flaming Lips has included ten of their music videos and the documentary Fearless Freaks (04). His other documentary features are Hill Stomp Hollar (00), Okie Noodling (01), which played at the Festival in 2001, and Summercamp! (06).

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