Playful Strange Little Cat depicts family life with affection
by Vladan Petkovic
- German director Ramon Zürcher’s first feature film is a quirky but carefully directed drama-comedy featuring an extended family in a Berlin apartment. Cineuropa Prize at the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival.
German director Ramon Zürcher debuted with his first feature film The Strange Little Cat [+see also:
interview: Ramon Zürcher
film profile] in the Forum section of the Berlinale. Although at the first glance it seems like a TV drama as it is completely set in a Berlin apartment and features one family, with brisk running time of 72 minutes, the carefully choreographed movements of its protagonists and quirky humour provide it with a chance for arthouse distribution.
Teenage siblings Simon (Luk Pfaf) and Karin (Anjorka Strechel) are visiting their parents (Jenny Schily, Matthias Dittmer) and little sister Clara (Mia Kasalo), soon to be followed by other members of the extended family who are coming to dinner, as well as some neighbours and friends who come for various reasons- to repair the washing machine or bring groceries. They discuss and do small, everyday things, which are turned into events by focusing on the stories they tell for no apparent reason- such as the ones about orange peel always landing on its orange side, or a stranger unconsciously keeping his foot on mother’s foot during a cinema screening.
The titular orange-striped cat is there too, but much stranger is their black dog who enjoys listening to the cat purr. Actually, this seems to be a treat for the whole family, they are all very fond of the cat’s purring. Sound plays an important role in the film- Clara accompanies every whirring and clanking of kitchen appliances with screaming along to them.
Their moves around the kitchen and the rest of the apartment are carefully choreographed and it must have taken either a lot of rehearsing (or a lot of luck with improvisation) to achieve the precise dynamics of one day in the family’s life. Some events and dialogues are recurring rhythmically, such as playing with a remote-controlled helicopter, sewing a button back onto a shirt, or discussing the way lungs function.
Although the film has no strong dramatic point, this clearly was not Zürcher’s goal anyway. Strange Little Cat is a sweet little film playfully depicting the everyday of a family’s life, and the director does it assuredly and affectionately.
Strange Little Cat was produced by The Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin.