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Short summary

As a thirty something acting teacher attempts to push a group of eager young performers out of their comfort zones, he struggles with his own ability to live an authentic and fulfilling life with his teenage son.
In Toronto, Leo, a single father to seventeen year old Sam, is an actor and theater director, he currently teaching an acting class/heading an acting troupe consisting of six students/friends: Alice, Jason, Mira, Pippa, Ray and Saul. After three months together as group of misfits as he calls them, Leo approaches them with an idea stemming from a dream he had: rather than mount a traditional play, they individually or in small groups would walk around the city wearing animal costumes, akin to animal mascot costumes, to see how they interact with people and in turn how people who have no idea what they are doing react to them. It is a broader representation of a video project Leo conducted with Sam when Sam was eight, Sam dressed in a rabbit costume giving away free hugs, which he could do having been in an animal costume instead of being a human with suspect motives giving away those hugs. Leo gets a somewhat cool if not hostile reaction from the six as a collective, some who just ...

Trailers "The Animal Project (2013)"

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Madi
    I was lucky enough to see the World Premier of "The Animal Project" last night at the Toronto International Film Festival and I loved it. It was beautifully written, directed and acted. Ingrid Veninger at her finest. The film was honest, heart breaking and funny. Personally, I found the relationship between Leo (Aaron Poole) and Sam (Jacob Switzer) to be real and moving. Also really fascinating was the Q & A after the film and getting to hear about Ingrid Veninger's unconventional creative process. Her purity of intent really shines through in this project and in the end she has created a film with heart and soul.
  • comment
    • Author: Contancia
    This will so just so so so lovely. I laughed, I cried, sometimes during the same scene. The beauty of the ensemble cast is that most everyone will find someone who they can relate to. All the different "animals" have their own set of unique problems and obstacles that they need to overcome. I was concerned that the scenes in costume would be a drag because you literally can't see any of the actors' faces, but I was completely wrong. The scenes in the mascot costumes were actually some of the funniest and most heartwarming in the film.

    I couldn't recommend this film more. It's an hour and a half of your life very very well spent.
  • comment
    • Author: Zolorn
    Another wonderful, heartfelt piece of work from a true maverick independent filmmaker.

    Great performances across the board, and lots of sweet surprises throughout.

    I was particularly effected by young Jacob Switzer's performance as Sam, and his relationship with his father (played by Aaron Poole) felt totally genuine.

    I appreciate how the filmmaker leaves just enough questions unanswered to keep the audience engaged without leaving everyone feeling lost.

    For my money, there just aren't enough films being made nowadays with this kind of spirit.
  • comment
    • Author: Ariseym
    What an extraordinarily fun, poignant and thoughtful work of art. Beautiful writing, photography, editing, sound design, music and (of course) costumes. Also, best ensemble cast in any English Canadian film, ever. Veninger is continuing to grow and fulfill her potential as an indie filmmaker by leaps and bounds on every project. Ironically, with this film she does it by staying close to home and telling a story about people in the city she knows best. Which leads to one of the most compellingly human depictions I think has been made of Toronto – in any art form. Anybody would be lucky to make a film like this once in their career... but I wouldn't be surprised if Veninger and her collaborators on this film end up making it a habit.

    A film to watch, and watch again.
  • comment
    • Author: Dalarin
    The Animal Project is a captivating Film! It features an endearing and adventurous cast. It is lovingly conceived and realized. Veninger has put some beautiful creatures, both costumed and otherwise on screen. The story on the surface is one of a group of blocked actors looking for ways to break through their comfort levels and truly take risks. At its core the film portrays a father and son relationship that is quite raw and refreshing in its candour. It also portrays some fascinating non-conventional romantic entanglements. As well, it shows off a slice of Toronto beautifully preserved from the cold encroachment of the modern glass tower so pervasive in our city. By so doing it creates a nostalgic feel. A view of the city that is more obscured with each new development. The film inspired me to dream of doing something more, something beyond my comfort zone, something to remind me I am alive today! A wonderful film that touched my heart. Thank you!
  • comment
    • Author: Anardred
    "The Animal Project" stars Aaron Poole as Leo, a thirty-something acting teacher, who is way too hippie-like in nature to put together coherent thoughts, although I'm sure he thinks he does. He instructs six wannabe actors on how to act, and they are just as insufferable as he is with their pretentious techniques and ideas on how to be successful in life.

    The Animal Project is an idea that Leo has, that if actors dress up in animal mascot suits, they can then give hugs out to people on the street. (Grown adult men cannot do this without going to jail, hence the need for the animal costumes). It would have been interesting to see where they take this animal project idea, except Leo and the actors were struggling with "what does it all mean, man," and whatever idea or questions the filmmakers wanted to put out there were lost as I have no clue what the point of any of this was.

    The opening scene was fairly well constructed. Leo was asking questions to each of the actors and filming their responses. And each was cut during the opening credits, so we just got a flash of what each of these people were like. But we also got the nagging suspicion that they were acting. After all, they are actors. But then to give further introduction to each of the actors, we got very bleak, slow introductory scenes of random, meaningless moments in their life. In fact, the point could very well be, that as struggling to become actors they feel like they are living meaningless lives and losing themselves in the process. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that idea can carry a slow, bare film about pretentious actors.

    The second main theme is Leo's struggle to raise his son. Leo struggles with a lot of things; he probably can't even put a pair of pants on, but that would belong in a comedy, which this is not. The film also loses a lot of interest before we even get to the father- son drama.

    "The Animal Project" is a slow, austere drama trying to string together some semblance of meaning to people who either don't have much meaning or deserve to be understood. Even if there was a point to the animal project or the father-son drama, it was lost in a lack of interest.
  • comment
    • Author: interactive man
    Please dont watch. slowest movie of the year, pointless and predictable. And I watched the whole thing. Can you? The music is pretty good.
  • comment
    • Author: Beanisend
    The Animal Project is a wonderful gem. The relationships in the film are brought to life with such love and care. I felt extremely moved by the father/son relationship especially when Leo hugs Sam while in the animal costume. It was such an understated but emotional moment. There are many instances of that within the film and it does not pander or over manipulate your emotions as it just shows the characters and situations in a very naturalistic way.

    I also liked how it felt like a portrait of these people at a specific time in their lives and it felt very real as if they would continue living on past the end of the film. It reminded me of Slacker but more focused, the kind of film where you get a real sense of these people to the point where it feels like they really exist. In addition to the great father/son bond, the relationship between Saul and Leo is very affecting. It's great that the film doesn't really spell their relationship out until a certain point which gives everything else before that new meaning. I like that Leo's sexuality doesn't have to be explained and the other character's sexualities were just a part of them as people instead of being linked to any sort of conflict. It just felt so refreshing to me.

    I also really like what the Animal Project is and how it's different for everyone, and how the characters are able to figure out what they want because of that form of art and expression. It's quite poignant that the suits allow them to do things they've always wanted to do but figured they couldn't while they're themselves out of the costume. Ingrid spoke at the Q&A that I attended and I really admired the audition/rehearsal process that seemed much more connected to who the actors were as people instead of trying to fit them into a predetermined box.

    I felt extremely inspired after watching it and I greatly look forward to re-watching it soon. It's a wondrous love letter to Toronto, the creative pursuit and small but big moments between people. Don't miss it.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Aaron Poole Aaron Poole - Leo
    Hannah Cheesman Hannah Cheesman - Alice
    Johnathan Sousa Johnathan Sousa - Jason
    Sarena Parmar Sarena Parmar - Mira
    Emmanuel Kabongo Emmanuel Kabongo - Ray
    Jessica Greco Jessica Greco - Pippa
    Joey Klein Joey Klein - Saul
    Jacob Switzer Jacob Switzer - Sam
    Dennie Foster Dennie Foster - Uncle Issac
    Joanne Vannicola Joanne Vannicola - Morag
    Noah Davis Noah Davis - Nathan
    Lindsay Owen Pierre Lindsay Owen Pierre - Matteo
    Kate Corbett Kate Corbett - Rosie
    PJ Lazic PJ Lazic - Pervert Man
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