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PLAYGROUND

Laura Wandel

Seven-year-old Nora (the transfixing Maya Vanderbeque) is distraught to be starting school, clinging to her father at the gate, but comforted by the presence of older brother Abel (Günter Duret) and his promises to play with her. However, her initial clinginess inadvertently costs Abel his position in the playground’s social hierarchy. As Nora sees her adored sibling join the ranks of the bullied, her initial impulse is to help him by seeking the assistance of adults. When this fails, Nora realises that her association with Abel is also affecting her standing in the jungle the playground has become. She must navigate these social structures, learning the laws and taboos, and acclimatise to a world where the basis for friendship and trust stands on shifting sands. This tender, intimate, and occasionally harrowing film is a remarkable directorial debut.

Notes by Kevin Coyne

72 mins, Belgium, 2021, Digital, Subtitled

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