Playground (Un monde), dir. Laura Wandel, Belgium 2021, 72 min., French with English subtitles, 15
Winner of the Sutherland Award, which recognises the most original and imaginative directorial debut at the BFI London Film Festival, Laura Wandel’s first feature is an unforgettably powerful journey into the trials and traumas of childhood – as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl.
It’s the first day at a new school for Nora (Maya Vanderbeque) – but the young girl is reluctant to make a start, tearfully clinging to her father (Karim Leklou) at the gates. Her big brother Abel (Günter Duret) helps coax her inside, but when she seeks him out in the playground, she’s left distraught by what she sees and feels. Shot largely from Nora’s perspective, Wandel’s astonishing feature is a compassionate and yet brutally immersive portrait of childhood – made all the more vivid by Vanderbeque’s extraordinary central performance.