Film review: Play Again

Jessica Duncan, Contributor Ω

posterplayagainPlay Again, the independent documentary from director Tonje Hessen Schei, explores the idea that the concept of “play” has adopted different meanings for modern day youth. This small-time film has gained worldwide respect, winning 11 awards across the globe, including the Best of Fest at the 2010 Colorado Environmental Film Festival. In the spirit of Kamloops Literacy Week, the Kamloops Film Society screened the 2010 film.

Play Again follows six American teenagers as they embark on a “screen-fast” followed by a wilderness retreat with no technology allowed.

As any good documentary should, Play Again starts off with some shocking statistics; the average American teenager spends 90 per cent of their time inside and 7.5 hours in front of computers, cellphones and televisions daily. Six seemingly different teenagers from Portland, Ore. were chosen to partake in the making of the film. Individually they express the importance of technology in their lives. Most use their cellphones extensively as social tools and partake in social networking websites such as MySpace. The group includes a few who enjoy the video gaming aspect of technology. The belief that technology makes society closer was common throughout the group.

The teens then partake in a “screen-fast,” which demonstrated how long each of them could last without using technology. Some felt lonely and only lasted a day, while others fought through over eight days of no screens.

The wilderness aspect of Play Again proved to be intriguing. None of the teenagers had been on a camping trip before and found this new experience to be tiring at times, but also rewarding. With no technology in sight they were forced to learn about nature, themselves and the people around them.

Play Again is a knowledgeable piece while also being aesthetically pleasing. Schei did her homework by including environmentalist David Suzuki and Dr. Diane Levin, an early childhood specialist for more than 25 years. Anyone interested in the preservation of today’s environment and the children left to care for it will find this documentary helpful and informative.

Norwegian director Schei has been active in the indie-documentary scene since the mid-1990s and in 2006 she released her first documentary, Independent Intervention.