Archive of films Petting Zoo / Petting Zoo

Germany / USA / Greece
2015, 92 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2015

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.

Zdena Škapová

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.


The Match Factory
Domstrasse 60, 50668, Cologne
Tel: +49 221 539 709-0

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Another View
Director: Micah Magee
Screenplay: Micah Magee
Dir. of Photography: Armin Dierolf
Editor: Chris Wright
Art Director: Utah Snyder
Producer: Michael Weber, Viola Fuegen, Johan Carlsen Friederike Steinbeck, Athina Rachel Tsangari
Production: The Match Factory, Makrorama
Coproduction: Haosfilm, Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin
Cast: Devon Keller, Austin Reed, Deztiny Gonzales
Sales: The Match Factory


Micah Magee

Film Director

Johan Carlsen


Ejnar Carlsen


Thania Dimitrakopoulou

Sales Agent

Nadja Jumah

Sales Agent


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