“C’mon babe, have some faith! There could be magic here, or a utopia! Use your imagination!” – “Utopias never work out.”

The scene: California, circa 1970. While the nation’s youth practice free love and protest against the establishment and the Vietnam War, a different sort of struggle plays out underground: veterinarian Lauren Grey tracks down fantastical creatures, rescuing them from abuse and providing refuge in her Cryptozoo. Alas, the military is scheming to get its hands on the greatest cryptid of them all, the dream-devouring chimera Baku, to harness its power and destroy the dreams of the burgeoning alternative culture.
In Dash Shaw’s idiosyncratic, transgressive trip, utopic visions of hero and anti-hero are put to the test. Inspired by the psychedelic underground comics of the 1960s, this story situated between lucid dream and horror trip resonates like an echo in our present day.
by Dash Shaw
with Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Alex Karpovsky, Zoe Kazan, Louisa Krause, Angeliki Papoulia, Thomas Jay Ryan, Peter Stormare, Grace Zabriskie
USA 2021 English 90’ Colour recommendation: 14 years and up

Part of the Berlinale Summer Special


  • Lake Bell (Lauren Grey)
  • Michael Cera (Matthew)
  • Alex Karpovsky (David)
  • Zoe Kazan (Magdalene)
  • Louisa Krause (Amber)
  • Angeliki Papoulia (Phoebe)
  • Thomas Jay Ryan (Nicholas)
  • Peter Stormare (Gustav the Faun)
  • Grace Zabriskie (Joan)


Written and Directed by Dash Shaw
Animation Director Jane Samborski
Animation Emily Wolver
Editing Lance Edmands, Alex Abrahams
Music John Carroll Kirby
Sound Design Ryan M. Price
Producers Kyle Martin, Jane Samborski, Bill Way, Tyler Davidson
Executive Producers Gail Flanigan, Dexter Braff, Drew Sykes
Co-Producers Dan Janvey, Kate Moran

Dash Shaw

Born in Los Angeles in 1983 and raised in Richmond, Virginia, USA, he studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and works as a cartoonist and animator. He has created the graphic novels “BodyWorld”, “Doctors”, “Bottomless Belly Button”, “Clue: Candlestick” and “Discipline”. He made his debut as a director with the animation film My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea which screened in Generation in 2017. Cryptozoo is his second film.


2016 My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea 2021 Cryptozoo

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021