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DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND

USA, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Lucy Walker

With the common view of the Amish community formed by films such as Peter Weir's Witness - bonnets, buggies and beards - the idea of drunken, speed dealing Amish biker hitmen comes as somewhat of a shock.

The tradition of 'Rumspringa' encourages Amish youth between the ages of 16 and 21 to explore the world outside their sheltered enclave. At the end of this period they make the decision to be baptised into the Amish church or remain an outcast. Incredibly, 90 per cent of these teens return to the fold after up to five years of booze, drugs, sex, fast cars, mobile phones and cable TV!

This eye-opening 2002 Sundance favourite follows the lives of four Amish teens in various states of uncertainty as to their decision. Faron, barely 18, has developed a chronic amphetamine habit. He is selling dope to support himself, has turned police informant and must flee to Florida to escape the wrath of (lapsed) Amish gangsters out for his scalp. Devil's Playground is a fascinating study of a curious religious phenomenon with an atmospheric soundtrack by Aphex Twin and DJ Spooky.

Londoner Lucy Walker cut her teeth on cult kids' TV programme Blue's Clues, for which she received an Emmy nomination. An Honours graduate from Oxford University, Walker was better known as a triathlete and DJ until she completed three award-winning shorts and numerous music videos.

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