Playtime explored current debates on the relationships between capital, the art world, and the individual. For the December 2013 Midnight Moment, filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien created a three-minute visual impression of the full-length film, showcasing the diversity of landscape as highlighted by exceptional color and shot with 4K technology.
Playtime consisted of three chapters, each devoted to a city defined by its own relation to capital: London, a metropolis transformed by the deregulation of banks and a center of the commercial art world; Reykjavik, where the 2008 financial crisis began; and Dubai, one of the Middle East's fastest-growing financial markets. Playtime followed five main characters identified as The Collector, The Houseworker, The Artist, The Auctioneer, and The Reporter, examining the ways in which these diverse subjects are entangled in capital and implicated in the global financial crisis. All characters were based on real individuals, each of whom Julien interviewed and researched extensively. The silent version of Playtime that showed in Times Square hinted at each of the characters' larger narratives through a series of moving images that establish their environments.