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We know a better word than happy


Following lockdown, children from Maryhill in Glasgow express their rights to outdoor play and learning, as they explore a green space that was established through 10 years of community activism.

The film was a response to the unthinkable reality of many city children being completely confined indoors during lockdown, and to UK governments and councils neglecting to recognise children's right to play. Through play we learn to cope; as one child expresses in the film: all our worries are floating away. 

Child psychologist Donald Winnicott said that through play we learn to negotiate between the inner world of the imagination and the self, and the outer world of the environment and others. The film attempts to express this urgency and complexity of play, taking us on journey through the creative possibilities of an urban green space: from physical and exploratory to sensory and imaginary play as the children delight in their own agency. 

Play was at the heart of production, through recordings and sound/play workshops with school groups at The Children's Wood. The sound design was a collaboration with composer Richy Carey and the film was shot in Kodak 35mm colour film on an Arri 2C by cinematographer Margaret Salmon. We know a better word than happy was an artist's commission for BBC/LUXScotland Now & Next 2021.

Director's filmography: If play is neither inside nor outside (2019), where is it? (2019), Against the Flow (2018), The Clock in Commune (2016).


  • Director Helen McCrorie
  • Country UK
  • Year 2021
  • Duration 5 min
  • Scottish Premiere


Scottish Competition 1: Tiny Changes (N/C 15+)

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