The Rabbi’s Cat tackles religion and human folly
by Fabien Lemercier
01/06/2011 - After his highly successful directorial debut, Je T’Aime, Moi Non Plus [trailer] (three César Awards in 2011, including Best Debut Film), illustrator Joann Sfar returns to screens today with his second feature, this time an animation: The Rabbi’s Cat [trailer], launched by UGC Distribution on a 243-print run. Adapted from three volumes of Sfar’s homonymous comic-book series and co-directed by Antoine Delesvaux, the film opens in Algiers in the 1920s. With refreshing humour and beautiful graphics, it tackles the sensitive subject of respect among religions.
Sfar says that The Rabbi’s Cat aims to "make light of the issues between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Everyone thinks they know each other but nobody ever eats at the other’s house. And yet, you can respect people without necessarily sharing their beliefs."
Having chosen to "cross the length and breadth of Africa to retrace the path of the colonial imagination and talk about the universality of human folly", the director points out that "every character, whatever community or religion they belong to, turns out to be racist or narrow-minded in their own way" and the film "also attacks the idea of religion being used for political ends". The Rabbi’s Cat blends 3D effects with pen and Indian ink drawings to great effect.
Among this week’s 12 other new releases are five more French titles: Elise Girard’s original film Belleville Tokyo [trailer] (starring Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm, still basking in their Cannes success with Declaration of War [trailer] – distributed by Epicentre Films on a 15-print run); the engaging and tender Monsieur Papa [trailer] by and starring Kad Merad (Pathé Films on 311 screens); Karine Silla Perez’s A Butterfly Kiss [trailer] (EuropaCorp Distribution on 170 screens); Meeting with an Angel [trailer] by Yves Thomas and Sophie de Daruvar (see news – Océan Films on 37 screens); and Jérémy Forni’s documentary Après la Gauche (“After the Left”, Cie des Phares et Balises).
Highlights among this week’s non-domestic European releases are Gianni Di Gregorio’s charming The Salt Of Life [trailer, film focus] (a sort of sequel to Mid-August Lunch [trailer] – Pyramide on 68 screens); and Gustavo Taretto’s Argentinean/Spanish/German co-production Sidewalls [trailer] (Jour2Fête on 30 screens).
(Translated from French)