Director: Laura Wandel
Cast: Maya Vanderbeque, Günter Duret, Lena Girard Voss, Karim Leklou, Laura Verlinden
72 minutes – French with English subtitles – 2021
When seven-year-old Nora witnesses her big brother Abel being bullied by other kids, she rushes to protect him. But Abel forces her to remain silent. Caught in a conflict of loyalty, Nora tries to find her place, torn between children’s and adult’s worlds.
With the camera rigged at Nora’s height we experience every emotion Nora feels. This powerful filmic choice emphasizes grown-ups’ inability to understand the complexities of the playground, and their impotence when it comes to stopping bullying and violence, most of which they witness too late.
Amongst its numerous awards and accolades Playground won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. At Belgium’s Magritte Awards, it was nominated for ten awards and won seven, including Best First Feature Film and Best Director for Wandel. Playground was selected as the Belgian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.
It’s one of the year’s boldest and best directional debuts, in addition to being one of the most incisive films yet made about how children experience bullying.
Alistair Ryder, View of the Arts
Beyond its fragile surface Playground is also a film about empowering children to love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly
Pamela Jahn, Fipresci
Films like this don’t come around often … Wandel’s debut feature is simply, utterly flawless.
Will DiGravio, Film School Rejects
From the word go, I felt I should only show things from a child’s perspective.
Laura Wandel, director of Playground