WHEN WE WERE BULLIES
Opens Friday, February 11
PLAYGROUND: Written & Directed by Laura Wandel
WHEN WE WERE BULLIES: Produced, Edited, Written & Directed by Jay Rosenblatt
An immersion into the war zone/school yard: PLAYGROUND follows 7-year-old Nora (Maya Vanderbeque, in a standout performance), a witness to her older brother Abel’s torment by bullies. Abel forbids her from reporting it to the principal and Nora fears that telling her father would only make things worse. Belgian director Laura Wandel, in a striking feature debut, shoots at a child’s-eye level, plunging us into a self-contained universe in which some kids enjoy games while others dread every tense moment. "A gut-punch of a film. Spot-on cinematic choices” – Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily. Accompanied by Jay Rosenblatt’s WHEN WE WERE BULLIES: a filmmaker’s investigation into his role in a 5th grade bullying incident at a Sheepshead Bay public school over 50 years ago. It’s a heady mix of archival footage, personal reflections, and interviews with key figures (including their teacher).
PLAYGROUND and WHEN WE WERE BULLIES have been shortlisted for the Academy Awards® for International Feature Film and Documentary Short Subject, respectively.
PLAYGROUND: 2021 72 MINS. BELGIUM IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES FILM MOVEMENT
WHEN WE WERE BULLIES: 2021 36 MINS. USA
“One of the very best recent films about childhood. A gut-punch of a film. A lucid depiction of pre-adolescent power politics, it is superbly made by debut director Laura Wandel. A sensory immersion straight into the heart of children abusing other children physically and emotionally. A sit-up-and-take-notice blend of outstandingly natural performances enhanced by spot-on cinematic choices.”
– Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily
“A gripping psychological drama. [Lead actor Maya] Vanderbeque’s performance is transfixing.”
– Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Masterful and refreshingly consistent.”
– Diego Semerene, Slant
“School as a microcosm for the world at large. The pair (of actors) are remarkable as siblings whose bond is almost destroyed by the pressures of the playground. PLAYGROUND shares the uncompromising and unflinching approach of filmmakers (the director) cites as influences, including the Dardenne brothers, Bruno Dumont and Michael Haneke.”
- Demetrios Matheou, Screen International