Cannes Film Festival
Golden Camera
Cannes Film Festival
Un Certain Regard - Best Director
Cannes Film Festival
A gripping psychological drama...Vanderbeque's performance is transfixing.



In this debut feature by writer-director Laura Wandel, the everyday reality of grade school is seen from a child's-eye-view as an obstacle course of degradation and abuse. Following seven-year-old Nora and her big brother Abel, we see Nora struggling to fit in before finding her place on the school yard. One day, she notices Abel being bullied by other kids, and though she rushes to protect him by warning their father, Abel forces her to remain silent, while he endures more humiliation and harassment by his peers. Transposing the gritty realism of such filmmakers as Jacques Audiard and the Dardennes Brothers to the inner world of kids, Wandel crafts an empathetic and visceral portrait of the cruelty of children, and the failure of adults to protect them.

"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." - Screen Daily

"Wandel’s movie is immersive and bruising, full of empathy for its young characters, and unrelenting in its depiction of the challenges they face." - Paste Magazine

"The film’s originality stems from its creative use of mix-and-match, taking a schoolyard tale and treating it with same hard-nosed intensity as Audiard’s prison thriller [
A Prophet] and a here-and-now visual immediacy more common to a war film." - The Wrap

"With her stunning debut film
Playground, Belgian newcomer Laura Wandel unlocks our memories through film. Playground is truly stunning in both its visual power and auditory submergence. Every frame, unlocking the vault of the school memories we keep firmly shut in our subconscious mind. This, in turn, creates an immersive, at times unnerving, and compelling slice of cinema." - Cinerama Film Online

"Masterful and refreshingly consistent." - Slant

"Laura Wandel’s refreshingly lean directorial debut captures the casual cruelty of youth free of sentimental embellishments, aided by a heartbreaking performance from young lead Maya Vanderbeque."
- Flickering Myth

"The best film I saw in 2021." - Peter Debruge

Winner - FIPRESCI Prize, Un Certain Regard - Cannes Film Festival
Winner - Sutherland Award, First Feature - London Film Festival
Winner - Best Debut Film - Haifa Int'l Film Festival
Winner - Best Actress - El Gouna Film Festival
Winner - Best Film - Guanajuato Int'l Film Festival
US Premiere - Palm Springs International Film Festival

Playing with the short film
When We Were Bullies, directed by Jay Rosenblatt.

A mind-boggling “coincidence” leads the filmmaker to track down his fifth grade class – and fifth grade teacher – to examine their memory of and complicity in a bullying incident fifty years ago. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Not Rated
French Cinema, Drama, Women and Film
Laura Wandel
Laura Wandel
Maya Vanderbeque, Günter Duret, Karim Leklou, Laura Verlinden
Winner, FIPRESCI Prize, Cannes Film Festival
Nominee, Golden Camera, Cannes Film Festival
Nominee, Un Certain Regard - Best Director, Cannes Film Festival
Nominee, FIPRESCI Prize ~ Best Foreign Language Film, Palm Springs International Film Festival
Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

'Playground' is not a psychological drama, per se, but it could be. Belgian 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 — children, bullying, adults ...


(Runtime: 72min)
Content below is subject to change and may not reflect actual order of appearence.



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