2013 / 47 minutes

Directed by
Anna Grimshaw
Country of production
United States
Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods

"A Summer Task" examines the rhythm and tempo of work in the forest. The film follows Bill Coperthwaite and his cousin, Steve, as they fell and haul trees to build a bridge and begin charting a new trail through the woods. It situates the viewer in the heart of the forest. Through the crafting of distinctive moments of rest and activity, of skill and improvisation, the film explores a complex, collaborative process as it unfolds in time. No longer the energetic men of their youth, Bill and Steve struggle against age and natural obstacles with a wry humor and stubborn determination. Through a single task, the film opens up questions about time, work, ageing and the ongoing process of life.

The film is part of the "Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods" series: it charts Coperthwaite’s life as it unfolds over the course of a year. It explores the changing character of work through the seasons and the distinctive temporality of specific tasks. "Spring in Dickinson’s Reach" establishes, literally and metaphorically, the scope of Bill Coperthwaite’s world. In contrast, "A Summer Task" is tightly focused and follows a single activity in painstaking detail. "Autumn’s Work" charts the passage of time through a change in the seasons as Bill makes preparations for winter. "Winter Days" draws the viewer into the quiet space and routine of the year’s end.

A meditation on time and process, Mr Coperthwaite: a life in the Maine Woods offers an intimate portrait of a remarkable life — one shaped by nature, work, poetry and the rhythm of changing seasons. Coperthwaite emerges as a Thoreauvian figure for our time.He reminds us of the central, but often overlooked place, of nature in American culture.

Language and subtitles
Location(s) depicted
Machiasport, Maine
North America
United States
Alternative culture Everyday Life Rural Art / Artists / Artisans