When the balance of the universe is disturbed, the hierarchy of nature’s totem can be reconfigured. If the earth’s creatures are more closely attuned to possible upheaval, the less fortunate to deal with chaos theory might actually be those who believe they own the space. Grounded in naturalism with a sprinkling of sci-fi, Moroccan filmmaker Sofia Alaoui‘s feature debut challenges the eco-systems of class divide and co-habitation with a compass that points in all directions. With ambiguous forces that are undefined, Animalia reminds us that when the rapture is close that social currency carries more weight than technology or bank account balances.
Inspired by real life and a film that certainly belongs to a larger universe that was considered for her Alaoui’s award-winning short So What If the Goats Die, Animalia premiered at Sundance at the beginning of 2023 (winning the World Cinema – Dramatic Special Jury Award) and it is towards the tail-end of the past year I got to meet the filmmaker (and her producer Margaux Lorier). We discussed the full-circle year she had (with an Atlas Workshop showcase), some of the ideas and reference points she made for the film and what she is working on next (a series called Les Saisons developed by Leïla Slimani and Compartment Number 6′s Juho Kuosmanen.