This richly told story, grounded by its emotionally vulnerable performances, is set against the backdrop of a lackluster circus ending its season in a vibrant small town. Poppy Valentine is a young-adult performer pressured by the harsh demands of her father, the owner of the circus, as well as the daily grind of expectations and additional duties thrust on her by the entire troupe. After their last show of the season, as they pack everything up for the winter, she goes on a quick night out on the small town to let loose and have some fun with her few gal friends, who are also part of her own extended circus family. Later that night, while on a late-night errand to get emergency gas for their power generator, she meets a shy, nerdy local boy and finds herself captivated by the quiet stability of small-town America, which then forces her to question everything that is her life. “Balloon Animal” is part of the New Filmmakers Forum Emerging Directors competition.