IYou'll find the word "casuistry" (pronounced kazoo-istry) in most dictionaries, just above "cat." It refers to a method of ethical analysis which takes into account the unique circumstances of particular cases. The term is often used disparagingly, in reference to specious justifications. Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat scratches its way beneath the surface of an infamous Toronto animal cruelty case, deftly exploring the opaque logic surrounding this macabre act.
Jesse Power, ex-vegetarian, was an art student when he conceived a new project. In May 2001, he enlisted two friends, Anthony Wennekers and Matthew Kaczorowski, to help him kill a cat. The intention was to make a video that protested the unthinking consumption of factory-slaughtered animals by killing, cooking and eating a cherished domestic pet - a feline posthumously named Kensington by animal-rights activists. Alerted by an outraged roommate, the police found the skinned and decapitated cat in the beer fridge. Kaczorowski fled and was apprehended in Vancouver two years later. All three eventually pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and mischief charges.
Fair warning: this is not an easy film. Incorporating interviews with the cat killers, as well as journalists, artists, animal activists and concerned citizens, Casuistry also contains disturbing imagery - though, mercifully, not the notorious cat video. Filmmaker Zev Asher eschews rote advocacy; rather, his documentary lurks curiously in murky terrain, playing like the punk B-side of an Errol Morris film. He places us in a unique space, one which vacillates between serious reflection, horror, transgression, banality, righteousness, humour and - mostly - paradox. This may be one of the most political films in this year's Festival