Archive of films Petting Zoo / Petting Zoo
The story of high school girl Layla, who was born into a low-income stratum of Texas society and is having difficulty staying afloat, is reminiscent of Ken Loach’s early films with its emphatic social tone, the subtlety of its psychological insight, and its forthright emotional empathy towards the young protagonist.
While awaiting graduation, a fragile and still-maturing 17-year-old named Layla discovers she’s pregnant by her slacker boyfriend Danny. In interviews the director repeatedly mentions her own experience growing up in the lower middle-class world of San Antonio, Texas, whose problems inspired this film. Although the social dimension is always present onscreen, it never interferes with the film’s empathetic and thoughtful take on the central character. The girl’s feelings and experiences, which seem beyond her strength when taken all together, stand at the forefront of an authentically crafted story that benefits from plot condensation and narrative silence. Layla has the gift of natural intelligence and indomitable vitality, yet we can perceive how frustration and loss threaten the forlorn girl. Without a trace of sentimentality, this touching picture addresses notions of purity, innocence, inconspicuous bravery, and faith in the future. Newcomer Devon Keller, eliminating the distance between herself and her character, adds a subtle power to this unusual film.
About the director
Micah Magee is a director and screenwriter. While an undergraduate at UT Austin, Micah worked as programming and managing director of the experimental Cinematexas International Short Film Festival. She received a journalism Fulbright fellowship from Texas to Berlin for work in pirate radio and print journalism. There she attended fiction directing studies at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb). Micah and her husband Johan Carlsen run a small production company, Makrorama, with help from their three children and the brilliant bookkeeping dog Jackson. The writer-director film Petting Zoo, her feature debut, makes use of the director’s own experiences growing up in southern Texas. The film was presented at the Berlinale and SXSW.
About the film
|Dir. of Photography:
|Michael Weber, Viola Fuegen, Johan Carlsen Friederike Steinbeck, Athina Rachel Tsangari
|The Match Factory, Makrorama
|Haosfilm, Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin
|Devon Keller, Austin Reed, Deztiny Gonzales
|The Match Factory