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SFFILM Festival

The Cats of Gokogu Shrine

Directed by Kazuhiro Soda

Japan | Documentary | 119

27 Apr
Sat, Apr 27 at 2:45 pm PT
28 Apr
Sun, Apr 28 at 7:15 pm PT


This rich observational documentary opens with a bratty orange tabby grabbing director Kazuhiro Soda’s microphone and attempting to eat it. That funny scene serves as a reminder that cats are internet stars because of their playful antics. But while irresistible images abound throughout this film, this is a work of more serious intent as Soda tenderly observes his seaside hometown Ushimado as the community contends with an aging population, erasure in the face of modernity and shifting industrial investment, and the pandemic. Employing his typical tenets of vérité filmmaking, Soda allows the subjects to guide his camera while he captures day-to-day machinations of daily life and the unusually fraught deliberations over what to do about the feral population residing in Ushimado. A shrine without felines — who have been largely abandoned there — seems unlikely and the film makes a poignant case for their contributions to village life as charming, fluffy providers of purring hospitality.

Director Kazuhiro Soda

Japanese-born, US-based documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda has a degree in religious studies from the University of Tokyo and a BFA in filmmaking from New York’s School of Visual Arts. His first feature, Senkyo (2007), won a Peabody Award. Among his other works are Mental (2008), winner of the Pusan International Film Festival’s Mecenat Award; Peace (2011), recipient of the Hong Kong International Film Festival’s Humanitarian Award; and Zero (2020), winner of the Berlin International Film Festival’s Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

Film Details

Language Japanese

Original Language Title 五⾹宮の猫

Year 2024

Premiere North American

Runtime 119

Country Japan/USA

Director Kazuhiro Soda

Producer Kiyoko Kashiwagi, Kazuhiro Soda

Editor Kazuhiro Soda

Cinematographer Kazuhiro Soda

Closed Captions Closed Captions are not yet confirmed for this program

Audio Description Audio Descriptions are not yet confirmed for this program

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation American Sign Language Interpretation is not currently scheduled for this film