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Playland USA

The essay film by Benjamin Schindler and Jan Wilde sees the US as a country in which reality and illusion is becoming less and less distinguishable.

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“We live in a world that‘s made up of 90% illusion and 10% reality,“ is said by an American towards the end of Benjamin Schindler‘s essay film PLAYLAND USA. The filming of this ambitious, associative film took place in 2017, a few months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president. But Schindler and co-writer Jan Wilde didn‘t make a film about Trump‘s America, it‘s rather about an America that had become more and more of an illusion long before the shock of 2016‘s election night. Many scenes of the film are filmed in locations of illusion, sites of historical recreations, like in Virginia, where the beginnings of the Independence War is reenacted in a kind of open air museum, or at the place where the railway would potentially merge and unite the continent, but also in seemingly real places like New York‘s Times Square or glitzy metropolis Las Vegas. Both are places that attract many strange people, people in spider man costumes and preachers that announce the end of the world or the coming of the messiah. One of the loose threads of the film is how one-sided history often is in the US and how little the crimes on the indigenous people are discussed. Schindler and Wilde mostly succeed in letting the viewers come to their own conclusions with a collage made up of associative montages, their own material, interviews, archival footage, and a complex audio track. They succeeded in making a rich film that also implies how Hollywood has also contributed to the unclearly defined boundaries between illusion and reality, opening the door to demagogues.

Michael Meyns

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Deutschland 2019, 88 min
Genre: Essay Film
Director: Benjamin Schindler
Author: Benjamin Schindler
DOP: Benjamin Schindler
Distributor: zeitgebilde
Release: 26.09.2019

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