Not available for screening anymore

Playground (Plac zabaw)

Directed by Bartosz M. Kowalski

  • Poland 2016; 81 min
  • Original version: Polish
  • Genre: Drama

  • San Sebastián IFF
    BFI London FF


Final day of school in a small Polish town. It's the very last chance for 12-year-old Gabrysia to tell her classmate that she has fallen in love with him. She sets up a secret meeting and blackmails the boy to show up. But what was supposed to be an intimate talk spins out of control and leads to an unexpected ending.

Director's Statement

I came up with an idea for PLAYGROUND by accident. One day, I read a crime story from years back and it left me absolutely shocked. I thought that we might be psychologically immune to a lot of things happening in the world, but there are some that will forever be unbearable. I was terrified and couldn't comprehand - how can one have no empathy? How can one be simply evil? I dug deep into the subject, spoke to psychologists and the police. It turned out that there are countless, similar cases involving violence among kids and teenagers. Child psychopathy (or conduct disorder) cases pose a lot of difficult questions but hardly give any answers at all. The majority of our cast are first-timers. We didn't want to hire any known actors because we thought that in this specific film, it would somewhat jeopardize the credibility of the story. And realism was our top priority. Therefore Director Bartosz M. Kowalski (with a viewfinder) and Cinematographer Mateusz Skalski DIRECTOR’S BIO & FILMOGRAPHY DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT working with our kid actors was the most important aspect. We had to make sure we'd have enough time to perfect the performances, so that they gave a feel of a real life instead of a stage play. I can't remember a single scene that would in any way be easy. Even the shooting days that were scheduled to be chilled out were ending up challenging. The risk was high: controversial subject, working with kids, animals, weather continuity (the story takes place over one morning), difficult supporting roles (like handicapped father), one take deals (like shaving head) etc. There were times when I thought that everything was against us: our actor has stomach problems, the dog playing in the scene goes nuts and runs off, it was supposed to be sunny and the rain is pouring down and so on... These were very stresfull moments, I though "maybe I should've written something easier". But from the get-go, the idea for the feature film debut was to set the bar as high as possible. To risk. And at the end of the day I think we managed to pull it off.




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