We the Animals (2018): Jeremiah Zagar’s Impressionistic Coming if Age Tale

Jeremiah Zagar directed and co-wrote with Dan Kitrosser We the Animals, based on the novel of the same name by Justin Torres.

Marking Zagar’s first feature, it stars Evan Rosado, Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand, Isaiah Kristian, and Josiah Gabriel.

The narrative premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Fest, where it won the Sundance NEXT Innovator Award, and was released by The Orchard.

Jonah, growing up with rambunctious brothers in a working class mixed-race family in upstate New York, must contend with his volatile father and his emerging sexuality

The film, dreamlike and haunting in its imagery, was shot on grainy 16mm film and includes colored pencil animated sequences.

Cinematographer Zak Mulligan tried to create a feeling of intimacy by shooting the events at child’s-eye-height.

Cultural Status

The film was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards.

Evan Rosado as Jonah
Josiah Gabriel as Joel
Isaiah Kristian as Manny
Sheila Vand as Ma
Raúl Castillo as Paps
Giovanni Pacciarelli as Dustin


As an impressionistic and evocative coming of age tale, We the Animals bears some resemblance to Barry Jenkins’ Oscar winning Moonlight and Terence Malick’s Tree of Life.