‘Summering’ Interview: James Ponsoldt On His All-Girl Coming-Of-Age Drama, Casting Sarah Cooper In First Role

Summering isn’t the movie most would expect to see from James Ponsoldt at Sundance. The filmmaker best known for hard-hitting dramas such as Smashed, The Spectacular Now, and The End of the Tour returns to Park City with a coming-of-age film targeted at a young female audience. The story finds best friends Daisy (played by Lia Barnett), Dina (played by Madalen Mills), Mari (played by Eden Grace Redfield) and Lola (played by Sanai Victoria) investigating an apparent suicide at the tail end of summer before they embark on their first day at middle school.

Along the way, they discover more about themselves, and their mothers, played by Lake Bell, Megan Mullally, Ashley Madekwe, and comedian Sarah Cooper in her first acting role.

I had a chance to speak with Ponsoldt about Summering, and he talked about how becoming a parent inspired him to want to make a film that his daughter could relate to. He also talked about how the cast came together, the decision to cast mostly unknown actresses in the key roles, and landing comedian Sarah Cooper in her first acting gig.

This was a real treat for me. Ponsoldt is one of my favorite directors whose films have been a huge part of my Sundance experience.

Summering recently had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. You can check out my review here, and look out for more info on its upcoming release.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.