Film Reviews

Review: ‘Rat Film’

Hot Docs 2017

Courtesy of Hot Docs


Rat Film
(USA, 82 min.)
Dir. Theo Anthony
Programme: Nightvision (Toronto Premiere)

Over Godardian snatches of string quartet music and images of a race car track, an incongruous voice emerges: “Acknowledgment of a creation myth: before the world became the world, it was an egg. Inside the egg was dark. The rat nibbled the egg and let the light in. And the world began.”

Equal parts Ta-Nehisi Coates, Werner Herzog and Jon Rafman, director Theo Anthony’s first feature documentary, Rat Film, is a brash collage that imaginatively investigates America’s race problem through the lens of Baltimore’s rat problem. Science experiments about rats’ social lives, the racist urban planning practices of redlining and restrictive covenants, quirky pet-owners, rat-hunters professional and amateur, shoddy VR and robotic voiceover: Rat Film veers unpredictably between all of them in a continuous staccato montage that culminates in a provocative flight of apocalyptic fantasy.

Many documentaries are bold journalistically; some are bold conceptually; but few are as bold aesthetically as Rat Film. Irreverently juxtaposing activist outrage with playful enigma in the world of The Wire, Rat Film is a documentary of rare inspiration. Don’t miss it.

Rat Film screens:
-Saturday, May 6 at the Fox Theatre at 8:00 PM

Visit the POV Hot Docs Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival!