When Amish youths turn sixteen, they are given the opportunity to embark on a coming-of-age ritual known as rumspringa (literally "running around"). During this period, they are allowed to indulge in smoking, drinking, drugs and other 21st-century pleasures. It ends whenever the individual feels ready (typically between the ages of 18 to 22) to make the decision that will determine the rest of their lives. Do they join the church and commit to being Amish, or do they turn their backs on their families and religion and live on their own in modern "English" society? Directed by two-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker (Waste Land, Blindsight), DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND is an ambitious documentary that offers a unique experience inside an American subculture that has scarcely been captured on film. These teenagers are not subject to Amish rules (including their restrictions on being photographed), and so they have dared to share their world with us. A handful of elders from more liberal Amish communities, perturbed by the ritual of rumspringa, also agreed to be filmed. This film revolutionizes our understanding of this extraordinary community, and sheds light on how all the rest of us come of age.
Topics: Independent Spirit Awards, Amish, Teenagers, Church, Coming Of Age, Lucy Walker, Tradition, Rumspringa, Religion, Sundance Film Festival