91 mins Parmi Nous
A heady mix of sci-fi genre-bending and apocalyptic tension, this extraordinary debut uses an alien invasion to peer across the stakes of faith and family in contemporary Morocco.
From humble Berber origins, Itto has married into a wealthy, conservative family, enduring her judgemental mother-in-law’s endless disapproval. Now heavily pregnant, she’s relieved to stay behind at their opulent country estate while the rest of the family leaves to seal a business deal. But when a mysterious supernatural catastrophe happens nearby, Itto must fight her way through the chaos to find her in-laws, past people and animals who now behave … strangely. On the way, she meets Fouad, a fellow Berber who challenges Itto’s faith and newfound privilege – and a farm boy who’s definitely not all he seems.
Sofia Alaoui’s dreamlike, enigmatic imagery combines the family-focused humanism of Steven Spielberg with the inner voyages of Terrence Malick (Voyage of Time, MIFF 2017) to startlingly original effect. Working from her own script, Alaoui uses her science fiction metaphor to comment on class, religion and gender roles in contemporary Morocco – a feat that won her Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision. Like the hypnotic fog that spreads across the landscape, Animalia envelops you in a trance state of new storytelling possibilities.
“Eerie yet beautiful, thought-provoking, and rich … This feature debut from Sofia Alaoui is a stunner.” – Film Inquiry