First, a warning: this doc about the early 1970s boho scene in Long Island will make your summer plans feel a bit lacklustre. Ryanair definitely doesn’t fly to this creative nirvana. Within seconds of hearing American artist Peter Beard reminiscing over old holiday snaps we spy Bianca and Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, all enjoying the local beach. The second voice we hear talking over old home-movie footage is Beard’s ageing former lover, Lee Radziwill, younger sister of Jackie Kennedy. This eye-opening, namedropping doc then switches quickly from remembering a social scene to deep-diving into an abandoned film collaboration between Beard and Radziwill, drawing smartly on footage lost for over 40 years.
The pair spent the summer of 1972 shooting a never-finished work about Radziwill’s eccentric elderly aunt, Edith Bouvier Beale, and Edith’s grown-up daughter ‘Little Edie’ – two socialites who lived like tramps in a crumbling mansion. If those names sound familiar, that’s because they were immortalised in ‘Grey Gardens’, the now-cult 1975 doc by Albert and David Maysles, who worked as cameramen on the earlier incomplete film. If you know ‘Grey Gardens’, ‘That Summer’ will be a revelation – here we see the massive clean-up operation (funded by Jackie and Aristotle Onassis) that allowed the Beales to move back into their house after it had been condemned. If you don’t know ’Grey Gardens’, no matter: you’ll feel the same thrill meeting these otherworldly people for the first time.