Sunday, November 7, 2021

Cat Daddies - HIFF 2021 Documentary Review

The Documentary: Cat Daddies

The Director: Mye Hoang

The Story: A heartwarming collective portrait of eight unique men whose lives have been changed by their love for cats. Some of these men will navigate the unprecedented challenges of 2020 with the help of these feline friends.

The Review:
If you didn't know, I was a cat daddy myself for 14 years so this documentary was on my radar as soon as I discovered it was being made. To see myself on screen through other cat dads was definitely something to look forward to and I had high hopes that director Mye Hoang would be able to do this story justice. I first knew of Hoang as one of the producers of I Will Make You Mine, Lynn Chen's directorial debut, and that is such a good movie. Check it out if you haven't watched it yet.

There are eight distinct stories that Hoang weaves into a very informative and entertaining narrative with each cat dad relationship being very unique and I really like how diverse the group is as well. This film shows that there are cat dads literally from coast to coast here in the US and each of them has a compelling story to tell. I loved getting to know the little furry creatures just as much as the men who care for them. I almost said the men who own them, but that's really not the case. Cat dads definitely have more of a caretaker or parent type relationship and, in some cases, the cats take care of them even more so than the other way around.

One particular example is David and his cat Lucky who are pictured in the poster. Hoang carefully and respectfully informs us of David's hardships, he is homeless and suffering from many health issues all of which are exacerbated by the pandemic, and then shows just how essential Lucky is in providing a sense of purpose and hope along the way. I think this is the most emotionally engaging story of the eight that we see although each one will hit your feelings in their own way because of how special and, in most cases, how unexpected they are.

That's really the key to why this documentary works so well. Hoang gives the audience such an authentic look into each of the subject's lives making it easy to connect with them and also easy to understand what drew them to being a cat dad in the first place. I also love how the director, along with cinematographer Rob E. Bennett, gives us a cat's eye view during certain scenes through some clever camera work which is a fun way to see things from the feline perspective. Combine that with some brilliant editing of what must have been tons of available footage between each of the eight stories and this is about as well crafted of a film as you will find.

Cat videos have been an internet sensation for years and I think this is like the final evolved form of what that type of content can become. Overall, this is just a really well thought out documentary and one that especially hit home for me for so many different reasons. I mean, who can resist seeing so many adorable cats in one movie and then on top of that we get a story that tugs at the emotions in some very heartfelt and loveable ways.

The Verdict:
Cat Daddies is the cinematic equivalent of holding a warm, fluffy cat while it purrs away all the troubles of the world. Mye Hoang's first documentary feature is the feel good story you never knew you needed and it will give you a new appreciation and for and understanding of all the cat daddies out there in the world.

To keep track of all my HIFF reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at HIFF 2021.

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