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New Directors/New Films review: 'Strange Little Cat'

Check out 'Strange Little Cat' at the New Directors/New Films festival.
Check out 'Strange Little Cat' at the New Directors/New Films festival.

The 43rd annual New Directors/New Films series, a collaboration between The Film Society at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art, will take from March 19 through the 30. "A Strange Little Cat," one buzzed-about entry by new German filmmaker Ramon Zürcher, has been gaining critical momentum since its debut at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival. Today on March 22, had the opportunity to see the film.

"A Strange Little Cat" (Das merkwürdige Kätzchen) challenges audiences to find humor and layers of truth in banal activities. Indeed, Zürcher’s directorial debut is less a plot-driven film than it is a snapshot of a seemingly normal day in the lives of a Berlin family. At the core, a mother, father, and their youngest daughter are visited in their Berlin flat by two older siblings. They go about their day like most families do on weekends—eating, sleeping, running to the grocery store, walking the dog, and gazing out windows. These mundane daily activities are peppered with contemplative monologues delivered to one another about recent incidents (i.e., an awkward interaction at the movie theater, and a discovery about orange peels). Later in the afternoon, some extended family arrives and the group prepares dinner together. Zürcher masterfully infuses moments throughout the day with humor, the most memorable of which involve antics of the family cat and dog—antics that appear spontaneous and not at all contrived. One of the film’s most captivating qualities is the subtlety of hidden emotion at play in many of the characters, most notably, the mother. Below the surface of her emotionless façade, she seethes with unhappiness for reasons left to the viewer’s imagination. This is the kind of film one could watch over and over again, finding a different nuance each time.

"The Strange Little Cat" screens on Tuesday, March 25 at MoMA and on Wednesday, March 26 at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Director Ramon Zürcher and producer/co-writer Silvan Zürcher will be in person for both screenings. For the complete New Directors/New Films schedule, please visit

Brigid Ronan contributed reporting.