Private Project

Summertime à Esparon

At the end of the 1950s, a French expat family in New York, spend their summers on the Mediterranean beaches, then, tired of the crowds of vacationers, choose a much more remote and ancestral place. Esparon, a small Cévennes hamlet abandoned since the second World War, is perched on a rock. It becomes for this family, sensitive to beauty and art, a real refuge whose restoration will take several years.

Within this colony, there are Georges Tonnellier and Pierre Fougeron, grandfather and father of the artist photographer Martine Fougeron. Both men practice photography and 16 mm film intensely. Equipped with a Leica and a Beaulieu R16 camera, they capture on the spot, with an incredible sense of the frame, the solar moments of the life of the beings who are dear to them. Esparon becomes for this family a kind of sanctuary, and through this love of photography the two men transmit their common sensibility and sensuality to Martine who in turn seizes the photographic art and will develop over several decades a setting in images which explores the landscape of adolescence of her two sons, Nicolas and Adrien.

The musical theme “Summertime” by the Gershwin brothers along with Martine's narrative voice crosses this long family history and gives the film an epic dimension, through four generations -- seventy years of an intimate genealogy.

  • Martine Fougeron
  • Martine Fougeron
  • Martine Fougeron
  • Christine Baudillon
  • Marc Siffert
    Sound mixer
  • Nicolas de Mones
    Key Cast
  • Adrien de Mones
    Key Cast
  • Georges Tonnellier
    Vintage 50-70's flm: 16 mm film /Kodachrome Slides/Leica B&W
  • Pierre Fougeron
    Vintage 50-70's flm: 16 mm film /Kodachrome Slides/Leica B&W
  • Martine Fougeron
    Contemporary Photography
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Summertime à Esparon
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    32 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 15, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    16 mm film
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Independent Shorts Awards: Silver Award Winner

    Silver Award Winner
  • Cineparis Film Festival October 2023

    Best first time director, short documentary
Director Biography - Martine Fougeron

Martine Fougeron is a French-American fine art photographer and film director living and working between New York, Paris and Esparon in the South of France whose work has been exhibited internationally and is held in major museums and private collections.

Fougeron's award-winning fine art photography project "Nicolas & Adrien" offers an intimate portrait of the lives of her two adolescent sons and their group of friends, over a period of 14 years. Fougeron has mounted solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia and her work has been exhibited internationally in China, France, Italy, South Korea, and Switzerland. Fougeron’s first monograph Nicolas & Adrien was published by Steidl in February of 2020.

In dialogue with her own work around the landscape of adolescence, Fougeron is presently working on her vast family archive. She just finished directing a short film "Summertime à Esparon". The film is based on her father and grandfather's archive of 16 mm film, Kodachrome slides and B&W negatives. A family novel in pictures which unfolds from the 1950s to the present day over four generations.

Fougeron is also an arts educator. She is the founder of "The Photography Master Retreat" - a one-week mentor-led intensive workshop in Esparon after Les Rencontres d'Arles in July of each year. Fougeron is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography in New York.

Fougeron’s work has been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The WSJ Magazine, New York Magazine, The Guardian, FT Week End and Vice.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"My idea for the movie Summertime à Esparon is to share a family novel in pictures.
My inspiration is to tell the story from my point of view as a granddaughter, a daughter as well as a mother.
Everything takes place during a single season: the summer holidays.
Everything is concentrated around a single place: the hamlet of Esparon in the Cévennes in the South of France.
Everything is focused on the same age: youth.
But this summertime unfolds, with strength and grace, from the 1950s to the present day, over four generations.

By mixing moving and still images taken by my grandfather and my father with their Beaulieu R16 camera and their Leica with my own images exploring the landscape of adolescence of my two sons, this film is for me a transmission that is anchored in an intimate genealogy. This theatrical dramaturgy and this gentle domesticity animate me.
Esparon is the mountain circus which rises like an amphitheater where characters and landscapes are staged.

In my work, I look for mysterious tensions between the spontaneous and the mise-en-scène.
Where the imagination is sparked."

Martine Fougeron