“We the Animals” has been on a roll since it debuted at the Sundance film festival in January. This coming-of-age story, which marks the directorial debut of award-winning documentarian Jeremiah Zagar, opened in August to some of the best reviews of the year. It just landed on the National Board of Review Top 10 list of independent films. That accolade came just days after the film reaped a leading five nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards, including Best First Feature.
Zagar and Dan Kitrosser adapted Justin Torres‘ 2011 novel of the same name, which tells the story of three mixed race brothers growing up in the 1980s. Zagar was singled out by the Indie Spirits as “Someone to Watch.” Critics certainly agree with his film scoring an impressive 91 at Rotten Tomatoes.
Among those heralding the arrival of this new talent is Washington Post scribe Ann Hornaday who opines, “Zagar builds a world that is simultaneously deeply authentic and dreamlike – the perfect combination to express a child’s deeply felt but inherently distorted view of the universe he inhabits.”
Equally enthusiastic was Peter Debruge of Variety. In his rave review, he observes, “As if by magic, Zagar has managed to foster a sense of familiarity among the boys that sells the illusion that they’re related, further reinforced by the editors’ trick of including moments of spontaneous, unscripted tomfoolery between the young actors.”
The multi-talented Zagar shares the cutting credit with Keiko Deguchi and Brian A. Kates. They reaped an Indie Spirit bid as did lenser Zak Mulligan. Also in contention is Raul Castillo for his scene-stealing supporting turn as the temperamental father of the three boys.