Monday, 4 May 2009

Hot Docs '09: Pussycat, Pussycat...Are You Visually Illiterate?

I was disgusted and fascinated by the 4 women who are the subject of Christie Callan-Jones's documentary, CAT LADIES. I was born in Jamaica, where cats and dogs were kept outside in the yard. We loved our pets, but we didn't exchange kisses with them, have them crawl all over our furniture, or save their whiskers in a little tin. Pet hair on clothes? YUCK! So, now that you know where I'm coming from you can imagine the grimaces that rearranged my face as I watched this film. In Toronto you are only allowed 6 cats per home. Only 1 cat lady in the documentary is living within the law (she has four). Of the other women, one has 16 and the other two have over 100 each.

Moving past my disgust and onto fascination: I marvelled at how open the women were about being "cat ladies". They more than live up to the stereotype, are very aware of this fact, and I admired their confessions about being lonely as children and as adults. How do you travel or have people come to your home when your house is full of cats? The hoarders believe that they are rescuing strays and providing them with a safe home. They have good intentions, but at what point does cat rescuing become cat addiction? You, too will empathize with these women's loneliness, but you will also wonder, as I did, if they need the cats more than the cats need them?

Cat Ladies final screening is Saturday, May 9th at 9:45 PM at The Royal Cinema. It screens with the Norwegian short film Statistics.

It had its final screening today, but given the cult stature of director, Peter Greenaway's the experimental documentary, REMBRANDT's J'ACCUSE will probably appear on a television screen near you.

Greenaway's film is part detective story and part conspiracy theory. It examines Rembrandt's famous painting "The Nighwatch" as if it were a period murder mystery. Using actors, visual effects, and an imposing journalistic narration by Greenaway himself (a la Stone Phillips)we go through the 31 points of who and why? Is the young girl in the painting a transvestite dwarf? Is the central figure in the painting issuing a challenge or is he a replica of Satan? And what of the secondary figure with the phallic sword? Art history meets the murder mystery in this documentary that will could turn your next visit to the art gallery/museum into an investigative report. A growing force of visual detectives would please Greenaway, who thinks that our educational system has left us visually illiterate with its emphasis on words as the only form of communication.

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Photo Credit: Hot Docs

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