MADRID — Adding to its growing lineup of multi-prized, first-time feature directors, Madrid-based sales agent Latido Films has acquired world sales rights to “Playground,” a buzzed-up Polish horror movie inspired by real events.
A portrait of disaffected Polish youth and the disconnect between its young protagonists and their parents — which may or may not explain the teenage pathology seen in the film — “Playground” marks the fiction feature debut of Bartosz M. Kowalski.
Kowalski is best known for two documentary features for HBO Europe: “The Dream in the Making,” which won the top prize in the Polish film competition at 2013’s Krakow Festival, and “Unstoppables,” which was the co-recipient of the 2015 Discovering Eye Award for the Most Interesting Emerging Film Artists at Chicago’s 27th Polish Film Festival in America Awards. Born in Poland in 1984, Kowalski is an alumnus of Paris’ Eicar film school and USC in Los Angeles.
In “Playground,” which he wrote as well as directed, Kowalski depicts the lives of three high school students — two cocksure boys, one girl — in a small town in Poland as they have breakfast, then attend their school’s end-of-year speech day. After callously humiliating the girl, the boys head for the local shopping mall to play video games. What happens next is inspired by real events which, occurring over a decade ago, traumatized Poland.
“This is not a movie that leaves you untouched. Once finished — if you can finish watching it in one go — it makes you think about the world we are creating for our children,” said Antonio Saura, executive director of Latido Films.
“Playground” represents one of the latest productions from Poland’s Film It, a film, TV and commercials house established in 2002 whose current slate also features upcoming “Volhynia,” a love story set in World War II that Film It bills as one of the biggest of recent Polish productions. Majority-financed by the Polish Film Institute, which can put up most of the budget on first features, “Playground” is produced by Film It and Orka Studio, the latter providing post-production services.
A disturbing vision of a nation that elected a right-wing government last October, “Playground” may add Kowalski’s name to a string of young Poles helping to drive a renaissance in Polish filmmaking. Others include Damian Nenow (“Another Day of Life”), Agnieszka Smoczynska (“The Lure”) and Kuba Czekaj (“Baby Bump”).
Though based in Spain, Latido Films is also a top Latin American film sales agent. Its new talent roster includes Mexico’s Celso Garcia, director of 2015’s “The Thin Yellow Line,” produced by Guillermo del Toro, and “Rara,” from Chile’s Pepa San Martin, which won this year’s Grand Jury Prize at the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus.