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The sexual exploitation of children is a problem that we tend to relegate to back-alley brothels in developing countries, the province of a particularly inhuman, and invariably foreign, criminal element. Such is the initial premise of Libby Spears’ sensitive investigation into the topic. But she quickly concludes that very little thrives on this planet without American capital, and the commercial child sex industry is certainly thriving. Spears traces the epidemic to its disparate, and decidedly domestic, roots — among them the way children are educated about sex, and the problem of raising awareness about a crime that inherently cannot be shown. Her cultural observations are couched in an ongoing mystery story: the search for Michelle, an American girl lost to the underbelly of childhood sexual exploitation who has yet to resurface a decade later.

Executive produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Steven Soderbergh, and Abby Disney and punctuated with poignant animation by Japanese pop artist Yoshitomo Nara, PLAYGROUND illuminates a sinister industry of unrecognized pervasiveness. A comprehensive revelation of an unknown epidemic, PLAYGROUND has been called essential viewing for any parent or engaged citizen.

Directed by
Libby Spears

Original artwork by
Yoshitomo Nara

Animation by
Heather Bursch, Song Kim and Gudrun Cram-Drach

Produced by
Martha Adams, David de Rothschild, Libby Spears, Matt & Tracy Smith, Arden Wohl, Julia Ormond, Devon Schneider and Stefan Nowicki

Executive Produced by
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Steven Soderbergh, Abby Disney, Lauren Embrey, Gayle Embrey and Jeff Vespa

Edited by
Oreet Rees

Music by
Bjork, Radiohead, Chris Martin, Blonde Redhead, Cat Power, Sigur Rós, CocoRosie, Basement Jaxx, DJ Shadow, Kazu Makino, Masato Suzuki.

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