In early 2020, Ivorian-Ghanaian director Will Niava, BFA 17, made his film debut with ZOO, a short film that follows an evening in the life of Amos, a young Black man living in the suburbs of Montreal. While hanging out in a parking lot with two friends one night, a misunderstanding occurs between them and what appears to be a very troubled man, escalating into a confrontation that quickly and unexpectedly turns violent.
Shortly after its release ZOO garnered attention, particularly for its nuanced approach to systemic racism and violence at the hands of police. Since then, Niava’s film has won 10 awards. The film has also been selected by more than 50 international film festivals, 15 of which are Oscar qualifying, and was made available on the Criterion Collection.
Niava’s inspiration for the film came from his own experiences with racism and police violence both in Canada and in his home country of Ghana.