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The Case of the Grinning Cat
A Film by Chris Marker
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The Case of the Grinning Cat is on the same DVD as Chris Marker's Bestiary and his and Mario Ruspoli's Three Cheers for the Whale

In his newest film, French documentarian and cinema-essayist Chris Marker reflects on French and international politics, art and culture at the start of the new millennium. In November 2001, the filmmaker became intrigued, as did many other Parisians, by the sudden appearance of alluring portraits of grinning yellow cats on buildings, Metro walls and other public surfaces. Marker's cinematic efforts to document the mysterious materializations of this charming feline throughout Paris are a recurring theme of THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT.

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This engaging record of Marker's cinematic peregrinations throughout the city, visually energized by his free-association montage style, chronicles strikes, demonstrations, memorials, election campaigns, celebrity scandals, international political incidents, and a seemingly endless variety of political protests (against the Iraq War, against China's occupation of Tibet, against the government's ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves). The personalized commentary running throughout THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT offers the simultaneously learned and witty reflections of the filmmaker, now in his early eighties, on both the contemporary and historical implications of these varied events and personalities.

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The mysterious grinning yellow cats soon begin to appear amidst the banners and signs in some of the political demonstrations. Eventually, the creator of the grinning cats is revealed to be an art collective known as Mr. Cat, whose members are shown painting a massive representation of their mascot on the plaza before the Pompidou Center. The filmmaker's own famous cat caricature soon allies with Mr. Cat, as Marker speculates on the political possibilities of such a feline association.

Chris Marker concludes THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT with thoughts on the vital importance of such expressions of imagination in our public lives, echoing the May '68 slogan that "La poésie est dans la rue" ("Poetry is in the street").

"Lively, engaged, and provocative!"—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"The film's message, finally, is to leave a little place to the imagination in a world that has become more and more violent. We are far from Chris Marker's militancy of the years 1960-1970, but the social satire is definitely here. And also, and above all, poetry!"—Le Parisien

"Further evidence of Chris Marker's exhilarating wit...an exceptional flight of conviction...the director's wisdom remains robust."—The Boston Globe

"Rich and resonant, worthy of repeated viewing and ideal for collective responsiveness in seminar and community contexts."—Leonardo Digital Reviews

"The film-poem of a militant who has never capitulated. His message, always timely, was scrawled on the walls in May '68: 'Beauty is in the streets.' "—Télérama

"Critic's Pick!"—Time Out


58 minutes / color
Release: 2006
Copyright: 2004
UPC: 8-54565-00103-9
ISBN: 9786312348108
DVD Sale: $29.98

This DVD is sold above for home video use only. If you require a license for institutional use or Public Performance rights, click here.

Subject areas:
Art, Cinema Studies, Communications, Cultural Studies, Democracy, France, French History, Human Rights, Politics, Social Movements, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights, Urban Studies, Western Europe

Related Links:
The Films of Chris Marker

View a PDF of the Film's Press Kit

Related Titles:
Three Cheers for the Whale: Noted French documentarian Chris Marker chronicles the history of the whale and, in a more general manner, that of all marine mammals, in the process warning of the imminent destruction of the whale threatened by the fishing industry's ongoing slaughter.

Chris Marker's Bestiary: Five Chris Marker short films devoted to animals collected together and available for the first time!

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Last Updated January 29, 2015
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