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A gripping child’s-eye view of the cycles of bullying and how the schoolyard mirrors the ‘playground’ of adult life.
It’s the first day of school and anxious seven-year-old Nora is sticking close to her older brother, Abel. When she witnesses Abel being harassed by some older students, she attempts to step in – but he refuses, swearing her to secrecy. To protect him, Nora sets out to learn the unwritten rules of the kids’ social hierarchy, which puts the siblings’ bond under extreme pressure. In the volatile jungle of the schoolyard, only the cruel can survive.
Laura Wandel’s debut feature is a powerful yet empathetic rites-of-passage drama depicting the desperation that plagues children bereft of meaningful support from adults. Drawing on the vérité style of Jacques Audiard and the Dardenne brothers, Wandel and cinematographer Frédéric Noirhomme shoot predominantly at Nora’s eye level in tight close-ups, creating an immersive microcosm of the ‘real’ world’s power dynamics. Winner of the 2021 Cannes Un Certain Regard FIPRESCI Prize and awards from the Göteborg, Haifa, London and Sarajevo film festivals, Playground is a coming-of-age story unlike any other.
Stunning … In a perfect hour and 12 minutes, Playground tells the sweeping, intimate story of a child’s coming into consciousness.
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