Director Dash Shaw / 2021 / USA

Lake Bell and Michael Cera lead the voices in this wildly imaginative animated oddity that takes a surprisingly emotional trip through eco-activism, the natural world and the lives of mythical creatures.

A kaleidoscopic odyssey unlike any you’ll see this year, this lavishly hand-drawn animation begins as two young hippies (voiced by Cera and Louisa Krause) stumble upon a sanctuary for endangered mythical creatures, the brainchild of a wealthy idealist (Twin Peaks’ Grace Zabriskie). Soon, the Cryptozoo’s adventurous animal advocate (Bell) and her gorgon assistant (The Lobster’s Angeliki Papoulia) are on a quest to find the legendary, dream-eating baku – before it falls into the hands of the military.

Graphic novelist–turned-filmmaker Dash Shaw follows his hilarious debut My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (MIFF 2017) with this hallucinogenic ride, which won Sundance’s NEXT Innovator Prize. Psychedelic yet sensitive, this animation is inspired by the fantastical dreamworlds of early-20th-century cartoonist Winsor McCay and the Dungeons & Dragons nights held by Shaw’s partner (and the film’s animation director), Jane Samborski. With echoes of everything from Jurassic Park and Okja to Ralph Bakshi and Yellow Submarine, Cryptozoo is a dazzlingly inventive original – one that dares to imagine a utopia for all creatures.

“A psychedelic paean to biodiversity and acceptance in a xenophobic world … Cryptozoo is a hallucinogenic original.” – Hollywood Reporter

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