Skip to main content

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.

For all things Hot Docs go to
Photo Credit: Hot Docs


Popular posts from this blog

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 2 aka The Miscasting of Renée Zellweger


Appaloosa wasn't on my "Must See" list of films, simply because my Festival experience is seeing the films without the big stars that may not get distributed. Appaloosa is directed by my love, Ed Harris (who also stars in the film) and has such notable names as Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons. I love Westerns, and an invite to the film had me in line at the elegant Elgin Theatre. While I enjoyed the Marshall (Harris) and his gun-toting, literate sidekick (Mortenssen) battling it out with the bad guy (Irons), I did not enjoy Renée Zellweger in the role of the woman who clings to whatever alpha male is dominating the scene. I kept trying to re-cast her, but it wasn't until I got home that Virginia Madsen's name popped into my head. Virginia would have been perfect and also luminous. Renée may be from Texas, but I wasn't buying her in this one. If you think I'm being harsh everything I've just written was also said by two guys walking behi…

Ross Petty's Sleeping Beauty BFFs: Meet Alexandra Beaton & Taveeta Szymanowicz

Fall/winter theatre favourite Ross Petty Productions is back with another fairy-tale pantomime! This year's treat is Sleeping Beauty-The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical. The beauty is Kinky Boots star, AJ Bridal and playing her best pals are Alexandra Beaton and Taveeta Szymanowicz of Family Channel's The Next Steps. Taveeta and Alexandra were in rehearsals but took time out to share some insights into their roles.

donna g: Were either of you familiar with pantomime before being cast in Ross Petty's version of Sleeping Beauty?
Taveeta: Yes! I saw Ross's production of Peter Pan when I was in Elementary school. I remember having such a lovely time. I was thus very excited when I was cast in Ross's 2015/16 production of Peter Pan in Wonderland last year. I was thrilled to be cast again this year! 
Alexandra: Of course! Growing up in Toronto, going to the Panto at Christmas  time was a tradition for a lot of my friends. I even saw a few myself.
donna g: You both play Bea…

TIFF '15 Interview : Director, Sanna Lenken on "My Skinny Sister"

  My Skinny Sister (Min Lilla Syster) screens as part of TIFF Kids, but this Swedish film about eating disorders is far from being an after-school special. I was especially impressed by the casting of this smart, realistic film with its portrayal of sisterhood and family dynamics.

donna g:You are so right in your Director's Statement that eating disorders are as common in families as alcoholism, yet the subject is never given equal attention.  Based on this lack of awareness, did you have any problems getting this film made or was funding readily available for this project?
SANNA LENKEN: It  wasn’t as hard as I had expected even though we, of course, had some meetings without luck. The main problem was distribution in Sweden. The distribution companies didn’t believe in the film as a commercial product, mainly because of the cast, two young girls, and the heavy subject. I was really scared for a while because in Sweden you can’t get all the money before having a distributor. In t…