VERITY’S SUMMER is a film for our times. “I am change. I am the change” becomes one young person’s mantra against the moral corruption and cowardice of her parents and wider society. The film takes Britain’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as a defining moment driving seismic shifts in political attitudes amongst young people. The implications of these changes will unfold over the next twenty years; they are only just beginning to be felt.
VERITY’S SUMMER is being launched to coincide with The Al Sweady Inquiry which will begin in March this year (2013). After £14 million spent and three years of delays, it is the biggest inquiry into allegations that British soldiers killed and tortured Iraqi detainees from 2004 onwards. The launch of the film also coincides with the ten-year anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The film suggests we have experienced a generational political failure by our politicians, institutions and democratic culture. Verity’s journey to maturity frames questions that are deeply relevant to our times: can we break historical patterns of violence? How as a society can we come to terms with our responsibility for war? The questions are framed in a key moment when Anne, Verity’s mother challenges her husband and asks ‘how do we know?’ what really went on in Iraq?
VERITY’S SUMMER purposely sets these big issues and global themes in the claustrophobic, intimate space of one UK-based family; in the quotidian, the civilian landscape. The complex emotional and ethical issues are unraveled within a young woman’s personal discovery of the profound consequences of war: a war that touches her life, her imagination, her relationships, her sense of the possible, real and moral. This is Iraq and Afghanistan beyond the abstraction of newspaper headlines and political posturing. It brings the conflict into the heart of a middle class British home, where war is intellectualised and is usually the occupation of others. VERITY’S SUMMER begins to formulate a much-needed response to the silences surrounding Britain's involvement in Iraq. By locating the story in a distinctive social, cultural and geographic setting, VERITY’S SUMMER lies firmly at the avant-garde of British independent cinema.
A hot summer day: two people make their way to a quiet town on the wild Northumberland coast. Sixteen year-old Verity is coming home from boarding school. Castle is a drifter, an ex-soldier cut loose after tours of Iraq. Although they never meet, their lives become inexorably intertwined. The summer holidays offer Verity the chance to get drunk and fall in love with Karol, a young Polish immigrant. But an unspoken tension between her parents – Anne, a university professor and Jim, a policeman – rises to the surface. When a dead body washes up on the coast and Jim is tasked to lead the police investigation, the silence around Jim’s experience training police in Iraq is broken. Verity must come to terms with her father’s role in the torture of prisoners and her mother’s refusal to face Jim’s guilt. As Verity looks out to the ocean’s horizon, she knows she must find a new path: a different way of being and acting in the world.