Cinema Releases - Playground
Nora (Maya Vanderbeque), an anxious 7-year-old, must return to school despite her distress and longing to stay with her dad (Karim Leklou). Despite Nora’s age, she soon becomes responsible for her older brother, Abel (Günter Duret), who is being tormented by the other kids. This puts Nora in a quandary – should she tell the adults or remain silent out of solidarity with her brother? Once Nora discovers Abel soaking wet, she feels compelled to take action, but just makes things worse. The authorities at school generally turn a blind eye, and her father remains powerless, kept at a distance from the confines of the school. An eventual confrontation between Nora and Abel leads to a startling climax.
72 min/Belgium/French with English subtitles/2021/Cert 15
World Premiere and Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize – Un Certain regard – Cannes Film Festival 2021
Winner of the Sutherland Award for Best First Feature London Film Festival 2021
Previews: BFI London Film Festival 11 & 12 October
French Film Festival, 12 Nov, Filmhouse Edinburgh, Leeds Film Festibal, 12,14,16 Nov Vue Light Leeds, 15 Nov, GFT Glasgow, Belmont Playhouse, 16 Nov, Cambridge Film Festival, Arts Picturehouse 23,25 Nov
Week Starting 22nd October
|ICA Cinema||The Mall||London SW1Y 5AH||020 7930 3647||23/26-28 Oct|
Week Starting 15th April
|Cine Lumiere Preview/Q&A w Laura Wandel, Wed 20 Apr||17 Queensberry Place||London SW7 2DT||020 7871 3515||20/4|
|BFI Southbank Preview week from 15/4||Belvedere Road||London SE1 8XT||020 7928 3232||all week|
|BFI Southbank Q&A with Laura Wandel 21 April||Belvedere Rd||London SE1 8XT||020 7298 3232||21/4|
Week Starting 22nd April
|Curzon Bloomsbury inc Q&A w Laura Wandel 22/4||Brunswick Centre||London WC1N 1AW||08719 642838||all week|
|Picturehouse Central||Gt Windmill St||London W1D 7DH||0871 902 5747||all week|
|ICA Cinema||The Mall||London SW1Y 5AH||020 7930 3647||all week|
|Cine Lumiere||17 Queensberry Place||London SW7 2DT||020 7871 3515||all week|
|BFI Southbank||Belvedere Rd||London SE1 8XT||020 7298 3232||22-3, 26,28|
|HOME||2 Tony Wilson Place||Manchester M15 4FN||0161 200 1500||all week|
|Arthouse Crouch End||159a Tottenham Lane||London N8 9BT||020 8245 3099||all week|
|Arts Picturehouse||38-39 St Andrews St||Cambridge CH2 3AE||0871 902 5747||all week|
|Hackney Picturehouse||270 Mare St||London E8 1HE||0871 902 5747||all week|
|IFI Dublin||6 Eustace Street||Dublin DO2 PD85||01 679 3477||all week|
|Filmhouse||88 Lothian RD||Edinburgh EH3 9BZ||0131 228 2688||all week|
|Glasgow Film Theatre||12 Rose St||Glasgow G3 6RB||0141 332 6535||all week|
|Tyneside||Pilgrim Street||Newcastle NE1 6QG||0191 227 5500||all week|
|Watershed||1 Canon's Rd||Bristol BS1 5TX||0117 927 5100||all week|
|Showroom||15 Paternoster Rd||Sheffield S1 2BX||0114 275 7727||all week|
|Warwick Arts Centre||University of Warwick||Coventry CV4 7AL||024 7652 4524||all week|
|Depot Cinema||Pinwell Road||Lewes BN7 2JS||010273 525 534||all week|
|Barbican||Silk Street||London EC2Y 8DS||020 7638 4141||all week|
Week Starting 29th April
|Curzon Bloomsbury||Brunswick Centre||London WC1N 1AQW||08719 642838||all week|
|ICA Cinema||The Mall||London SW1Y 5AH||020 7930 3647||all week|
|Cine Lumiere||17 Queensberry Place||London SW7 2DT||020 7871 3515||29-30/4, 2&5/5|
|BFI Southbank||Belvedere Rd||London SE1 8XT||020 7298 3232||29-30/4, 4/5|
|Riverside||101 Queen Caroline St||London W6 9BN||020 8237 1000||all week|
|Exeter Picturehouse||51 Bartholomew St W||Exeter EX4 3AJ||0871 902 5747||all week|
|DCA||152 Nethrgate||Dundee DD14DY||01382 432444||all week|
|Picturehouse at FACT||88 Wood St||Liverpool L1 4DQ||0871 902 5747||all week|
|Tyneside||Pilgrim St||Newcastle NE1 6QG||0191 227 5500||30/4, 5-6/5|
|Warwick Arts Centre||University of Warwick||Coventry CV4 7AL||024 7652 4524||29/4-1/5|
|HOME||2 Tony Wilson Place||Manchester M15 4FN||0161 200 1500||all week|
Week Starting 6th May
|ICA Cinema||The Mall||London SW1Y 5AH||020 7930 3647||6,8.10 May|
|Exeter Phoenix||Gandy Street||Exeter EX4 3LS||01392 667 080||all week|
|Eden Court||Bishops Rd||Inverness IV3 5SA||01463 234234||all week|
|Chapter||Market Rd||Cardiff CF5 1QE||029 2031 1050||all week|
|Cine Lumiere||17 Queensberry Place||London SW7 2DT||020 7871 3515||7 May only|
|Tyneside||Pilgrim St||Newcastle NE1 6QG||0191 227 5500||7 May only|
Week Starting 13th May
|Belmont Filmhouse||49 Belmont St||Abertdeen AB10 1JS||01224 343500||all week|
|Arts Cinema||Tavistock Place||Plymouth PL4 8AT||01752 206114||all week|
|Square Chapel||10 Square Rd||Halifax HX1 1QG||0343 208 6016||16th/18th/19th only|
Week Starting 20th May
|Midlands Arts Centre||Cannon Hill Park||Birmingham B12 9QH||0121 446 3232||20,22,24 May|
|Pyramid Theatre||Uni of Leeds, Lifton Pl||Leeds LS2 9JZ||0113 3801400||24 May|
|Broadway||14-18 Broad St||Nottingham NG1 3AL||01159526611||20th-23rd May|
|King St Cinema||Corn Exchange||Ipswich IPI 1DH||22-25 May|
|Chichester Cinema||New Park Rd||Chichester PO19 7XY||01243 786650||22,23,26 May|
|Firstsite||High St||Colchester CO1 1JH||01206 713700||20,24,25 May|
|Regent Centre||51 High St||Christchurch BH23 1AS||01202 499199||21st & 25 May|
|Ultimate Picture Palace||Jeune St||Oxford OX4 1BN||01865 245288||24,25 May|
Week Starting 27th May
|Mareel||Gutters Gaet, Lerwick||Shetland ZE1 OWQ||01595 745500||29 May, 1st Jun|
|Galway Palas||15 Merchants Road Lower||Galway H91 F6DF||91 394 800||29/30 May|
|Genesis||93-95 Mile End Road||London E1 4UJ||020 7780 2000||2nd June only|
|Brewery Arts||122A High Gate||Kendal LA9 4HE||01539 725 133||1st & 2nd June only|
|Filmhouse||Derngate||Northampton NN1 1TU||01604 624811||27th & 30th June only|
|Roses Theatre||Sun St||Tewkesbury GL20 5NX||01684 295074||2-6 June|
From June 3rd
|Phoenix||11 Berkeley Vale||Falmouth TR11 3PL||01326 313072||5th/7th June|
|Savoy||16 Causewayhead||Penzance TR18 2SN||01736 363330||5th/7th June|
|Triskel Arts Centre||Tobin Street||Cork||+353 21 427 2022||5th & 9th June|
|Royal||Royal Square||St Ives TR26 2ND||01736 796843||5th/7th June|
From 10th June
|South Hill Park||Ringmead, Bracknell||Berks RG12||13/14 June|
Laura Wandel was born in 1984 in Belgium where she studied filmmaking at the IAD school. Her school film, Murs, was selected for many festivals around the world. After her first short film, O Négatif , she directed Les Corps Étrangers, selected in competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Playground (Un Monde) is her first feature.
2021 Playground (Un Monde) – Cannes, Un Certain Regard
2014 Foreign Bodies – Cannes Short Film Competition
2011 O’Négatif (short)
|CLÉMENCE||Lena GIRARD VOSS|
|THE FATHER||Karim LEKLOU|
|MADAME AGNÈS||Laura VERLINDEN|
|ANTOINE'S FATHER||Laurent CAPELLUTO|
|MADAME FRANCK||Sandrine BLANCKE|
|ABEL'S TEACHER||Monia DOUIEB|
|SCHOOL HEAD||Michel ISRAEL|
|PLAYGROUND MONITOR||Sophia LEBOUTTE|
|LUNCH MONITOR||Muriel BERSY|
|GYM TEACHER||Kylian DECORNE|
|VICTOIRE'S MOTHER||Anne-Pascale CLAIREMBOURG|
|THE PHOTOGRAPHER||Jean-François RAVAGNAN|
|CO-PRODUCERS||Jan DE CLERCQ|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER||Philippe LOGIE|
|CINEMATOGRAPHY||Frédéric NOIRHOMME SBC|
|SOUND ENGINEER||Thomas GRIMM-LANDSBERG|
|1ST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR||Jean-François RAVAGNAN|
|CONTINUITY||Elise VAN DURME|
|ART DIRECTOR||Philippe BERTIN|
|MAKE-UP & HAIR||Katja PIEPENSTOCK|
|PRODUCTION DIRECTOR||Claudia NAVARRA|
|RÉGISSEUR GÉNÉRAL||Vincent BREDAEL|
|SOUND EDITORS||David VRANKEN|
|POSTPRODUCTION DIRECTOR||Céline GRUDNIEWSKI|
|IN COPRODUCTION WITH||LUNANIME|
|PRODUCED WITH THE AID OF||CENTRE DU CINEMA ET|
|DE L’AUDIOVISUEL DE LA FEDERATION|
|WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF||FONDS AUDIOVISUEL DE FLANDRE (VAF)|
|WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF||WALLIMAGE (LA WALLONIE)|
|IN CP-PRODUCTION WITH||VOO et BE TV|
|WITH THE AID OF||TAX SHELTER DU GOUVERNEMENT|
|FEDERAL DE BELGIQUE ET DES|
|INVESTISSEURS TAX SHELTER|
|73 mins / Belgium 2021 /1.85|
100% Rotten Tomatoes
"Playground begins by stealing your heart. A little girl, Nora (Maya Vanderbeque), looks back at her father (Karim Leklou), eyes brimming, as she is led away to her first day at primary school. The film grabs a tight hold and doesn't relinquish your emotions for one second of its running time...it is as small and perfectly formed as its heroine...In it's own way the film is an epic.
A beautiful film."
Tom Shone, The Sunday Times
"It's a brilliant and gruelling watch for everyone who ever felt they didn't fit in at school themselves, and it will doubtless resonate with parents of school-age children and teachers with experience of bullying."
Saskia Baron The Arts Desk
"What an incredible performance from Vanderbeque" an intuition of fear and pain and moral outrage that goes beyond acting."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Laura Wandel captures this universal ordeal with a masterful sense of perspective and empathy."
Christopher Machell CineVue
"Just think: a mere 72 minutes in the life of a primary schooler is "officially" more scarring than any given 2.5 hours of Marvel carnage. Wandel should take that as the compliment it is. Its brilliance lies in its perspective."
Robbie Collins, The Telegraph
"Powerful depiction of school bullying. The performances that Wandel coaxes out of her young cast are remarkable and often painful to behold"
Tara Brady, The Irish Times
"An exceptional debut feature...after all the drama and trauma Wandel delivers an ending indelibly touched by grace."
Tom Dawson, Total Film magazine
"It's Wandel's debut feature, and it feels like shes been preparing for it her whole life. From the start it feels like a beautifully shot documentary, and some of it kind of is."
"This is tender, sensitive, non-judgemental work, which doesn't put a foot wrong. At 72 minutes, it verges on slight - theres certainly no fat on it. Yet still, it's an emotional barrage that will bring out your most primal protective urges.'
An exceptionally taut drama."
Alex Godfrey, EMPIRE magazine
"Sometimes cinema is at it most potent and engrossing when it is stripped down to the essentials, Playground, the accomplished, uncomfortably powerful first feature from the Belgian-writer-director Laura Wandel, is a lean 72 minutes, with no score and a lithe, instinctive handheld camera that rately leaves the face of seven-year-old Nora (Maya Vanderbveque, superb).
It's a remarkable achievement."
Wendy Ide, The Observer
"Playground is commendable in treating break-time brahahas like the far-reaching, formative conflicts they really are."
Ryan Gilbey, The New Statesman
"An unflinchingly honest, heartbreaking and gorgeouly acted tale of schoolyard-bullying."
Linda Marric, The Jewish Cronicle
"It might be the hardest thing to pull off in cinema: compelling, unsentimental films that convey the realities of childhoold. But Belgian writer-director Laura Wandel manages it magnificiently...Stylistically close to Belgium's great realist masters the Dardennes, Playground takes the insights and pushes them somewhere new. It's an intensely involving film, and simply one of the best - and truest - ever made about childhood."
Jonathan Romney, Uncut magazine
"We like to think of our children swaddled in the bubble wrap of parental protection, but the playground can be a jungle, a hotbed of feral resent. This theme is powerfully explored in Laura Wandel's Belgian drama Playground."
Paul Whitington, The Irish Independent
Why 'Playground' might be the greatest film ever made about childhood'
"What is the greatest film ever made about chldhood? Fans of the French New Wave will argue Francois Truffaut's debut The 400 Blows. Pixar enthuiasts will vouch for the Toy Story series. Or if American independent cinema is your thing, then you'll probably plump for Boyhood, Richard Linklater's remarkable fim...Yet there's never been a film quite like Playground...
Read James Mottram interview with Laura Wandel in the ipaper - and more interviews below:
Interviews with Laura Wandel in The Guardian, Sight & Sound, Little White Lies, Curzon Journal, iNews, Dazed magazine
“A gut-punch of a film that is not so much a portrait of schoolyard bullying as it is a sensory immersion straight into the heart of children abusing other children physically and emotionally, Playground is a sit-up-and-take-notice blend of outstandingly natural performances enhanced by spot-on cinematic choices. Tough subject matter sensitively handled...Laura Wandel is a talent to watch”
Lisa Nesselson, Screen International
"A gripping psychological drama..Vanderbeque's performance is transfixing."
Jessica Kiang, Variety
“…the absolute highlight of the section, and one of the outstanding films of the festival (Cannes 2021) overall, was Playground, by Belgian first-time director Laura Wandel.”
Jonathan Romney, Sight & Sound
School bullying remains, sadly a universal theme, with filmmakers across the world tackling it. This consideration of it from Belgian first-time feature director Laura Wandel finds something new to say by working the angles, both hunkering down to a child's pint-size perspective and shifting the emphasis by taking the viewpoint not of the child who is the inital victim of bullying but his kid sister instead."
Amber Wilkinson,,Eye for Film
“A brilliant debut feature. Playground’s brilliance is in its simplicity and intimacy…The two young stars are fantastic, and their performances are highlighted by cleverly thought-out photography that keeps them centred at all times and draws you in to the excitement and terror of their little world."
Danielle Measor, WeTalkFilm
"In this stunning Belgian drama, a little girl and her brother go to school, read, write, fight and learn some brutal lessons about life.
In a perfect hour and 12 minutes, “Playground” tells the sweeping, intimate story of a child’s coming into consciousness…This is the first feature from the writer-director Laura Wandel, and it’s a knockout, as flawlessly constructed as it is harrowing.
A work of striking integrity and force, “Playground” owes a debt to the influential Belgian filmmaker brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, both in its formal and thematic concerns. As in their movies, Wandel is charting a moral awakening and focusing on the questions that many movies rarely engage. How do we love, and why? How do we become, who do we become? Wandel is telling the story of one child, a tiny planet spinning in a mysterious, often confusing, unsettled universe. (The original title is “Un Monde.”) But she’s also telling a story that in its piercing, sensitive detail and life-shaping arc is as familiar as yours and mine."
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"Vanderbeque gives what may be the most fully formed child performance in recent memory. Confronted by a camera that gives her no room to hide, her eyes register mercurial fluctuations of feeling, pivoting from intense fear to growing confidence, from paralyzing shock to bitter disillusionment, as Nora gradually realises what she and her brother are up against.
No one in this movie has a complete understanding of what's going on, but Wandel proves that a sensitive enough camera can provide a fuller picture than most. The final shot of "Playground" bravely answers that question, with a tenderness that refuses the easy comforts of either sentimentality or cheap cynicism. Nora and Abel, the movie insists, are not as alone as they think. Maybe none of us are."
Justin Chang, LA Times
"Through the teary eyes of a child, fighting against her first day of school, writer/director Laura Wandel introduces us into the microcosm of her heart-rendering debut "Playground," Belgium's shortlisted Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film."
While both Duret and Vanderbeque's acting is - without fear of hyperbole - miraculous, the latter's presences on screen speaks of an innate sensitivity for externalizing a person's inner complications. How Wandel manages to encourage and shape such a turn must be sheer alchemy."
Carlos Aguilar, Roger.Ebert.com
'Wandel employs a verite style sans musical score, inherited largely from fellow Belgians Jean- Pierre and Luc Dardenne, whom she cites as an influence...Thanks to the camerawork, impressive sound design, and knockout performance from Vanderbeque, we experience every emotion Nora feels."
Susannah Gruder, IndieWire
“An unvarnished contemplation of the cruelty of children and the negligence of adults. Playground is practically an exercise in the use of off-camera space, and a masterful and refreshingly consistent one at that.”
Diego Semerene, Slant Magazine
“…the film's originality stems from its creative use of mix-and-match, taking a schoolyard tale and treating it with the same hard-nosed intensity as Audiard's prison thriller and a here-and-now visual immediacy more common to a war film.”
Ben Croll, The Wrap
"Belgium director Laura Wandel's jarring debut feature plunges headlong into the world of school-aged children and observes their dynamics with chilling precision. It generously studies its subjects...and extracts haunting conclusions about the Darwinian nature of ostensibly idyllic settings.'
Lovia Gvarkye, The Hollywood Reporter
"Wandel's film burrows right into the mind of its characters, leaving you gasping for air."
Ben Flanagan, In Review Online
"Playground is a poignant portrait of the dynamics of fitting in and finding one's place."
Selina Sondermann, The Upcoming
“Filmed from a child’s perspective, Laura Wandel’s first feature is a moving, subtle yet incisive tale which impresses for its intense depiction of bullying at school.”
Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa