Jonni Peppers: WASTELAND, a film in five parts

Pleasure Dome is pleased to present the Toronto premiere of non-binary artist Jonni Peppers’s five-part film WASTELAND. Created while Peppers was a student in experimental animation at CalArts, the film explores takes up  isolation, mental illness, and the subjective perceptions of reality in the context of the 2020s. Guest curated by programming committee members Justyne Benico and Jacob Crepeault.

Part of Spring 2024

Pleasure Dome is pleased to present the Toronto premiere of Chicago-based, non-binary filmmaker Jonni Peppers‘ five-part film WASTELAND. Created over a period of time when Peppers was studying experimental animation at CalArts, the film explores themes of community, isolation, mental health, and the subjective perception of reality. Viewed here as a single program, the five short films form a larger, emotionally-charged narrative that unfolds within a dynamic, visually diverse world of Peppers’ making. You don’t want to miss this one-night event!

When: Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00pm ET

Doors open at 6:30pm and the screening begins promptly at 7:00pm

Small World Music Centre, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St, Unit 305, Toronto

Free and open to the public
This venue is fully accessible

The artist will be present at the screening and will take part in a live Q&A.


The Earth is Flat, 2016, 7 min

Goodbye Forever Party, 2017, 20 mins

Dr. Sam Mulaney’s Burden, 2017, 4 mins

We Are All Dying in the Wasteland, 2018, 4 mins

The Final Exit of the Disciples of Ascension, 2019, 45 mins

Running time: 1 hr and 20 mins

Content warnings: mature themes, nudity

Curatorial essay, by Jacob Crepeault:

“Hold on sailor

Hold on partner

Your family will find you

Your pain will guide you”


Jonni Peppers’ Wasteland, curated by Pleasure Dome Programming Committee members Jacob Crepeault and Justyne Benico, is a five-part anthology film by experimental animator Jonni Peppers. Peppers’ hand-drawn, tactile approach to animation establishes a unique experience for viewers with its profound character dynamics and emotionally devastating situations – all while constantly reminding you that everything and everyone is made of paper and other stationary materials. A suspension of belief is mandatory to appreciate the spectacle of Peppers’ fictional world.

Within these five interconnected short films, Jonni Peppers introduces viewers to the lives of several residents of the titular Wasteland, each with their own burdens to bear. They navigate a broken world teeming with escalating fears and dangers of the modern age. The ever-looming threat of rejection, failure, and the inability to find your place in the world are constantly circling overhead. Wasteland’s residents must carry on with the best intentions as they encounter conspiracy theorists (The Earth is Flat), children’s TV shows with sinister undertones (Goodbye Forever Party), cult leaders (The Final Exit of the Disciples of Ascensia), and people plagued by an unknown sausage-related illness (Dr. Sam Mulaney’s Burden). Within the boundaries of Wasteland, Peppers gives each character their own visual style guide, shifting animation techniques in the blink of an eye to step into a new perspective and explore the emotional subjectivity of reality.

The absurd, hyperreality of Wasteland’s setting and characters are deliberate choices, as Peppers notes in her artist statement about the works: “Each visual choice is intentional and meant to contrast with popular animation and the way we typically consume it. I’m of the belief that every single ‘rule’ that we are presented in animation school, and in the animation industry at large, are all fake”.

Wasteland is the first part in a larger series called The Blindfold, which includes Secrets and Lies in a Town of Sinners (2020), Barber Westchester (2022), and upcoming projects Take Off Your Blindfold, Adjust Your Eyes, Look in the Mirror, See the Face of Your Mother (2024) and The Cone Layer (2026).

Programmer note: As of 2023, the artist’s name is Jonni Peppers. The artist formerly went by Jonni Phillips, but decided to not use that last name anymore for personal reasons.