WHEN WE WERE BULLIES
12:15 4:25 8:30
Thursday, March 3: 4:00 ONLY
Must End Thursday, March 3
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).
WHEN WE WERE BULLIES is nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject.
PLAYGROUND is shortlisted for the Academy Awards® for International Feature Film.
PLAYGROUND: 2021 72 MINS. BELGIUM IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES FILM MOVEMENT
WHEN WE WERE BULLIES: 2021 36 MINS. USA
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 108 MINS.
Critic’s Pick. “In a perfect hour and 12 minutes, PLAYGROUND tells the sweeping, intimate story of a child’s coming into consciousness…(A) fierce, intelligent movie… It’s a knockout, as flawlessly constructed as it is harrowing… Create(s) a richly inhabited world that’s disturbingly familiar… (and) an immediate, palpable intimacy… (A) work of striking integrity and force… Wandel is telling the story of one child, a tiny planet spinning in a mysterious, often confusing, unsettled universe… a story that in its piercing, sensitive detail and life shaping arc is as familiar as yours and mine.”
– Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Read the review.
“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
“ Electrifying. Essential. Shot, cut, and performed with an immediacy… Bold aesthetic choices pay off across a whole spectrum of emotions. If one hews close enough to the characters’ perspectives, every story effectively becomes a thriller. As Nora, Vanderbeque is quite stunning... It’s a testament to this impossibly young actress’s talent that she can convey all these emotional shifts without it ever seeming convenient, phony, or cheap.”
– Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
“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
On WHEN WE WERE BULLIES:
“(A) multilayered new work of personal nonfiction and historical inquiry…passionate detail and self-scourging power… Conjuring the past with an enticing array of cinematic devices—close analysis of film footage, the playful animation and manipulation of still photographs, copious interviews on camera and in voice-over, and his own trenchant and rueful monologues—Rosenblatt evokes lifetimes of anguish while also pondering the ethics of telling the victim’s story.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker