Indie queen Ingrid Veninger's new film puts a Toronto acting troupe in touch with its animal side.
Ingrid Veninger (Canada, Contemporary World Cinema)
Wednesday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Thursday, September 12, 5 p.m.
Scotiabank 13 (259 Richmond Street West)
Saturday, September 14, 7:45 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 (350 King Street West)
The godmother of Toronto’s D.I.Y. filmmaking scene, Ingrid Veninger, follows up the lovely mother-daughter drama of i am a good person / i am a bad person with The Animal Project, an equally scrappy but harder-nosed successor. Toronto actor Aaron Poole stars as Leo, a frustrated theatre director and acting teacher who—inspired by a short film he once made with his now-teenaged son Sam (Jacob Switzer)—pushes his alienated students to re-engage with the world around them by donning animal suits.
Veninger does a good job of mining the uncanny weirdness of the actors’ Toronto adventures in animal garb, but, as in her earlier films, her greatest strength lies in capturing the tricky bond between creative parents and their sweet, if slightly caustic, children. The moments where Leo and Sam repair their slightly frayed father-son ties are both tender and funny, and Switzer (the filmmaker’s own son) is as much of a revelation as his sister Hallie Switzer was in Veninger’s earlier film Modra.