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September 15–21, 2017

Chicago Premiere

Rat Film

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Film still: Rat Film Film still: Rat Film Film still: Rat Film


Critics' Pick "Equal parts disturbing and humorous, informative and bizarre, Rat Film is a brilliantly imaginative and formally experimental essay on how Baltimore has dealt with its rat problem and manipulated its black population"
  —New York Times
"A movie that brilliantly defies categorization... Rat Film manages to say something real and immediate in a fresh and inventive voice"
"It's one of the most extraordinary, visionary inspirations in the recent cinema"
  —New Yorker
"[Director Theo] Anthony deftly interweaves historical analysis and portraits of Baltimore residents today"
  —Art in America
"Anthony's blend of well-researched scientific and historical background with deep existential questioning recalls Werner Herzog's best work, presenting a fresh take on a centuries-old subject with poetry and urgency"
  —Chicago Reader
"It's one of the most imaginative and provocative documentaries on any topic I've seen this year"
  —Chicago Tribune

Baltimore is plagued with rats and they are everywhere. Even the garbage cans provided by the city are designed according to how high a rat can jump. Rat Film examines this rodent population and the culture that surrounds it, gradually moving into an intersecting sociological analysis of the city's urban development and its segregation of impoverished ethnic minorities. It becomes clear that the failure of the city to control its rat problem is intertwined with a systemic neglect that has also fostered poverty and racism.

Rat Film offers an experience both cerebral and visceral, as it employs the film-essay tools exemplified by Chris Marker and Harun Farocki, as well as the ecstatic truth approach to documentary found in Werner Herzog's filmography. Rat Film is a genre-defying piece that is a work of history, journalism, criticism, portraiture, and entertainment as it boldly proclaims, "There's never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it's always been a people problem." The dire urgency is countered by an ironically deadpan narration, accentuating the eeriness of this revealing socioeconomic exposé that seems to suggest that if we look close enough at the cracks, we live in post-apocalyptic times.

Directed by Theo Anthony, U.S.A., 2016, 82 mins.


  • Fri., Sept. 15 at 6:30 & 8:30 pm
  • Sat., Sept. 16 at 2:30, 4:30, 6:30 & 8:30 pm
  • Sun., Sept. 17 at 1:30, 3:30 & 5:30 pm
  • Tues.–Thurs., Sept. 19–21 at 6:30 & 8:30 pm
Buy tickets


$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation