Wandel wins awards for her film about school bullying

20/10/2021

"Un monde" (Playground), the first feature film by Belgian filmmaker Laura Wandel, has just been named best First Feature Film at the BFI London Film Festival, having met with critical success and received the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. This film plunges viewers into the playground of a primary school that becomes hell.

The world Laura Wandel describes is that of a primary school: a seemingly innocent and happy microcosm in which the worst cruelties occur. Shot in natural settings at the Athénée Royal Andrée Thomas in Forest (Brussels), it is an immersive dive into the world of school from a child's perspective. When seven-year-old Nora (Maya Vanderbeque) starts primary school, she is confronted with the bullying of her older brother Abel (Günter Duret). The story shows her torn between her desire to warn their father (Karim Leklou) so she can protect her brother and the vow of silence she has made to him. Wandel's film creates a constant tension, making viewers feel the same discomfort as Nora by inevitably arousing recollections of their own playground, where the tortured or cruel child they once were may still remain.

"With this film, I wanted to show the strength and resilience of children by sending the viewer back to their schooldays and their first confrontations with others," says the director. The film has also won awards in Guanajuato (Mexico), Ourense (Spain) and Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina).