Film review: Schoolyard by Rinio Dragasaki

A school in summer: empty corridors, deserted classrooms. Everything is still, and the static, perfectly framed takes are somehow reminiscent of Chantal Akerman's Hotel Monterey. This impression of stillness is, however, only apparent, for a pencil rolling down a desk sets all events in motion.

A group of students wearing uniform is seen in the courtyard, playing with waterbombs: their movements, shot in slow motion, appear almost stylised, as if they were part of a ritual, an impression that is enhanced by the solemn extradiegetic music.

The film progresses in a crescendo of tension and violence, with heavy, stone-like balloons being thrown, with the images increasingly reminding us of the riot scenes that have frequently taken place in Greece over the past few years.

With Schoolyard, Rinio Dragasaki offers a powerful comment on the Greek socio-political situation, with a film that is strong both visually and content-wise. The careful camera movements and editing and the graceful, almost choreographed movements of the actors do not take away from its message, but rather enhance it, providing a contrast between what is being shown- an innocent game that turns increasingly violent- and the way it is being shown- almost poetically, as if blood and fire on the playground were normal, natural. In the same way, its closing image (a modern and contemporary history book burning) is not redundant, but rather a stoic acknowledgement of a generation denied of its education and historical memory, and who only knows crisis and violence.

Author: Chiara Puntil*

Title: Schoolyard

Director: Rinio Dragasaki

Year: 2013

Run time: 9'45''

Genre: Fiction

Country: Greece

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*Every day Cineuropa Shorts, in collaboration with Nisimazine and Lago Film Fest (18-26 July), offers you film reviews and interviews made in Lago by the brilliant Nisimazine’s team of young journalists.

18 July 2014, by Nisimazine