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The Animal Project

This screening took place on
Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 8:00pm
Old Fire Hall

An unorthodox acting teacher (Aaron Poole) attempts to push a group of eager young performers out of their comfort zones, while struggling with his own ability to live an authentic and fulfilling life with his teenage son.

From the director of Modra, i am a good person/i am a bad person and Only. Director in attendance. Tickets: $10 at the door. $9 for YFS members.

Canadian indie queen Ingrid Veninger returns with her most controlled film yet, a partially improvised tale driven by an ensemble cast. At the centre is frustrated theatre director Leo (Aaron Poole, one of Toronto’s finest actors), whose recent sessions with what he calls his “misfit” troupe have stalled creatively. One of the actors, Saul (Joey Klein), is an ex-lover Leo still has unresolved feelings about — who responds to all of his suggestions with withering smirks and nasty asides. Leo’s also having trouble with his teenage son, Sam (Jacob Switzer); the ongoing tension between them seems to mean they’re growing apart.

One night, alone and trying to find solutions to his problems, Leo hits on an idea, or rather, rediscovers one. In one of his old short films, The Bunny Project, a preteen Sam, dressed in a bunny suit, discussed his feelings about the world and wandered around Toronto offering free hugs. Putting his actors in costume and sending them out into the real world may spark the kind of engagement they’ve been lacking. Or so Leo hopes.

The Animal Project is about how day-to-day life can make us lose sight of the big picture — and about the difficulty of separating the personal and the professional. Leo’s problems at work cause him to lash out at Sam, who’s working through his own stuff. That frustration at home only makes Leo more ornery with the troupe (which includes 2013 TIFF Rising Star Johnathan Sousa), all of whom have been struggling with their own emotional baggage. The Animal Project is a telling reminder that we can try to hide from our problems, but they certainly aren’t going to hide from us.  - Steve Gravestock, TIFF

  • Directed by Ingrid Veninger
  • 2013, Ontario
  • 90 minutes
    The Animal Project

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