Sixth-graders in a provincial Polish town, Gabrysia, Szymek and Czarek attend their last day of school. Lamenting an uncertain future, Gabrysia decides to tell Szymek that she has fallen for him, but things do not go as planned. What starts as a seemingly normal day culminates in a shocking event so brutal, it led audience members at San Sebastian Film Festival to walk out of the film en masse. After forging a career a documentarian, Bartosz M. Kowalski turns his hand to fiction — while retaining a cast of non-actors, natural lighting and guerilla filmmaking techniques — to craft a searing metaphor for the insidious nature of systemic violence currently infesting parts of Europe. Starting with the simple premise of a playground crush, and following in the footsteps of The White Ribbon, his observational effort deals with the nature of terrible acts, how they come to occur and the often-elusive reasons why, as children act as extensions of the distant yet highly influential adults that surround them. Many films will demand your attention at SUFF this year, but none are quite as commanding and fearless as this — guaranteed to both offend and engage, do not miss the chance to encounter its raw power first hand on the big screen.
Playground | Dir. Bartosz M. Kowalski | Drama | 82mins | Poland | 2016 | Sydney Premiere
“One of the year's most savagely polarizing titles”
The Hollywood Reporter
“Bartosz M. Kowalski’s foray into fiction is a brutal, brilliant affair that is bound to outrage and shock in equal measure. An unexpectedly astute exploration of a country in limbo, this is the film that’ll have you questioning a lot of your beliefs.”
ScriptPro Award 2014