Docs

Ratcam: Tales from the sewer

A three-year-long rat infestation (by not just one, but a succession of three different packs of rats, he says) of the house he was renting in the Yorkville area of Toronto is the inspiration behind Jacques Holender's new documentary Rats....
January 1, 1998

A three-year-long rat infestation (by not just one, but a succession of three different packs of rats, he says) of the house he was renting in the Yorkville area of Toronto is the inspiration behind Jacques Holender’s new documentary Rats.

Coproduced by the National Film Board of Canada’s Peter Star, the CDN$400,000 project begins shooting in December with locations in Toronto, Detroit, New York City and Baltimore scheduled. Cinematographer Robert Fresc is shooting on Super 16, and plans include a 75-minute version for festival and theatrical release as well as a one-hour program for tv. TVO, citytv, scn, and Access Alberta have taken windows in Canada.

The program will chronicle how societies over the centuries have tried unsuccessfully to control rats and also explore the public horror and hysteria surrounding the vermin. Parts of the film will take the rats-eye point of view, as they travel through the sewer system. To create the effect, Holender has constructed a maze of sewers in a warehouse and set up miniature digital remote-control cameras on dollies to follow a group of rats.

This is probably more information than you want, but apparently rats deprived of food cannibalize each other and, yes, Holender plans to capture some of this gore on camera. (Incidentally, one of his previous films was a part-documentary, part-fictional account of the processing of a body by the death industries called Time Is On My Side.)

On a lighter note, Holender has recently directed and produced Staged, The Architecture of Pop Concerts, a one-hour doc from Nemesis Productions, licensed to A&E in the U.S. and MuchMusic in Canada. The evolution of the rock concert from the simple sets of the Beatles to the megatours of the 90s is interspersed with clips from a number of rock icons such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Pete Townsend.

In Pulp Non-Fiction:
-Production briefs straight from the source
-Spotlight on Mentorn Barraclough Carrey
-Spotlight on TVF
-Ratcam

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.

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