Starring Adrian Tofei, Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton, Alexandra Stroe
Directed by Adrian Tofei
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is Romania’s first found footage movie. While that sentence accurately describes it, Be My Cat is a film that defies easy classification with the veracity of a wild feline.
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is:
- A found footage horror movie from Romanian filmmaker Adrian Tofei
- The name of an unmade film within the film that the main character/antihero/villain has written as a vehicle for American actress Anne Hathaway
- The name of a nonexistent film within the film used by said villain as a pretense to lure unsuspecting actresses into his complex web
In addition to all this, Be My Cat is a demo reel, a pitch film, a video love letter created by a man possessed by artistic aspirations and a single, uncompromising vision. Be My Cat was created in a verité, improv style, filmed in public often to the actual dismay of real people (and police officers!) who were, unknowingly, movie extras. It’s a film by Adrian Tofei starring Adrian Tofei playing a filmmaker named Adrian; the supporting cast, Sonya, Flory, and Alexandra, are played by Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton, and Alexandra Stroe, respectively. I was never happier to read those obligatory lines at the conclusion of the credits: “No people or animals were harmed in the creation of this film” because at the end of its taut 87 minutes, part of me still wasn’t sure.
Be My Cat takes meta-filmmaking to mind-bending levels and plays out like an arthouse snuff film; the umbrella term “mockumentary” simply isn’t completely accurate. In fact, simply calling Be My Cat “unique” is an understatement (no small feat in the arena of found footage films). What we have here is potentially revolutionary and, like the most impactful examples of uncompromising art, potentially dangerous. The line between fact and fiction has never been so terrifyingly and brilliantly blurred.
Be My Cat will be a tough sell to some; in our current environment, there’s often knee-jerk hatred towards found footage films (even when it’s Romania’s very first). And, to be honest, there are a lot of red flags: It’s a low budget passion project created on out of date, hand-held cameras (read: often shaky) starring complete unknowns. But brave aficionados willing to delve into this downward spiral will be rewarded—and disturbed.
Adrian, the character played by Adrian Tofei, seems unlikely to entertain; his performance, however, is captivating—like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. It doesn’t take long for us to deduce he’s completely manic. Be My Cat is a portrait study of the aspiring ego-obsessed fresh-off-the-boat filmmaker stereotype. Yes, Adrian is delusional, but in a way, don’t you have to be in order to make a movie? Even under the seemingly best scenarios, things can disintegrate quickly (The Island of Dr. Moreau, for example) so if an independent filmmaker doesn’t have sky-high aspirations and buckets of determination, he’s doomed from the get-go. We’re reminded of good old Mark Borchardt and his attempts to create Coven, as documented in 1999’s American Movie: They’re both unintentionally comic, clearly out of their element, yet somehow blessed with amazing confidence that makes them sad, but endearing. Of course, in Adrian’s case, we don’t remain sympathetic for long.
It’s incredibly ironic that a Romania movie so accurately illustrates the perils and pitfalls of independent filmmaking in America (and parts of Western Europe). It speaks to the glut of aspiring young actresses willing to do anything for a break in show biz—and how innocent ambition makes them easy targets. The subtext is rich with jabs at society’s seeming nonchalance regarding violence against women, desensitization to violence, and apathy surrounding victimization in general.
The third act of Be My Cat takes the “final girl” trope to nerve-wracking extremes in a way that’ll give your stomach knots–way more intense than your typical cat-and-mouse maneuvering (pun intended). If you’re a sensitive or immersive connoisseur of intense psychological cinema, be prepared to have your sense of empathy torn to shreds. This is a film that’s hard to shake, leaving viewers with a palpable sense of transformation–for better or worse!
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne was an Official Selection at the 2015 Fantasporto International Film Festival in Portugal and the 2015 TIFF Transylvania International Film Festival. No word on an American release, but you can stay up-to-date on Be My Cat by checking out their website here or their official Facebook Page here.