“Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable.”
In We the Animals, three boys tear through their childhood while their young parents’ volatile love life makes and breaks their small family unit many times over. While Manny (Isaiah Kristian) and Joel (Josiah Gabriel) grow into different versions of their loving but unpredictable father (“Looking” star Raúl Castillo), Ma (Sheila Vand) seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah (Evan Rosado), in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own.
With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar, based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by layered performances from its astounding cast –including all three talented, young first-time actors in prominent roles as the brothers – and stunning animated sequences which bring Jonah’s torn inner world to life. Drawing from his documentary background, director Jeremiah Zagar creates an immersive portrait of working class family life and brotherhood.
Zagar’s first feature documentary, In a Dream (which aired on HBO), was shortlisted for an Academy Award and received two Emmy nominations, including Best Documentary. It screened at theaters across the U.S. and festivals around the world, winning awards at SXSW, Full Frame and others. His second FILM, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (also from HBO), premiered in competition at Sundance. We The Animals is his first narrative feature – and it marks the arrival of a bold new cinematic voice.