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Entries in Jeremiah Zagar (1)

Thursday
Aug162018

Interview: We the Animals' Jeremiah Zagar

by Murtada Elfadl

We the Animals has been compared to Moonlight (2016), The Tree of Life (2011) and Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). While the comparison is reductive it provides a shorthand for describing this film. It’s a story of three young brothers - one of whom is queer - and their relationships with each other and with their unpredictable parents. There are elements of magical realism in a story grounded in the economic desperation of a working class family in upstate New York.

Raul Castillo (HBO’s Looking) and Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) give perceptive performances as the adults. However it is newcomer Evan Rosado, playing the central character of Jonah, who’ll take your breath away. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world in the secret journals in which writes and sketches. It is an assured narrative debut from documentary filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar. We loved the film when it played Tribeca last spring. We had the chance to speak to Zagar recently in New York.

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Murtada Elfadl: You've said that you read the book in one sitting while still at a bookshop, before even buying it. What popped in the book for you and made you want to make it into a film?  

Jeremiah Zagar: Literally the first page of the book is so visceral, rhythmic and immersive that I couldn’t stop reading it. Beyond that it felt like something I knew how to visualize. I read a lot of books but very few where I feel that I know how to make them into a movie. Somehow I felt this connection to the material that wasn’t only emotional, it was technical almost. I didn't want to change it at all, I just wanted to figure out how to put it on screen. I could see it, I could hear it, I could feel it in my head before it happened...

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