Old Partner
Old Partner

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Is your pet your property or a member of the family? Mine is the heartbreaking but hopeful story of New Orleans residents who had to leave their pets behind during Hurricane Katrina. Evacuees were told by shelters, hotels, and the law enforcement at the Superdome that animals were forbidden—so hundreds of thousands of pets had to battle the storm on their own, left only with mountains of food and their owners’ best wishes. After the weather settled, rescue workers dedicated to saving pets came to the city and did indeed find plenty who survived, and they took pictures and scans of microchips to catalog the animals and help reunite them with their families. Some were successful—except that the pets had long since been adopted by other people, who either were too attached to give them up or thought that the original owners didn’t deserve to get them back because they had “abandoned” them. Mine offers a little-discussed angle on Katrina’s devastation and even manages to make both sides of the argument sympathetic. And after you see it, you’ll go home and give your Fluffy or Fido a loving squeeze.

Even without a disaster, there are plenty of pets in need of a home—and plenty of people who go overboard trying to provide. Everyone knows there’s a silent third word preceding the title Cat Ladies, and that word is “Crazy.” And though one or two of the film’s subjects seem a bit out of touch with reality—take, say, the woman who dreamed she was breastfeeding a kitty—mostly these are people who just want to help. The short is slightly padded with tinkly, melodramatically scored interludes, but mostly it’s a sweet glimpse into the lives of people who are rescuers and not hoarders. One 30-ish single woman recognizes the difference: Though she has 16 felines now, she says: “I can’t end up with 30 cats, because then it’s completely over.”

“Crazy ox man” is a less popular phrase, but it’s one that certainly applies to the elderly subject of Old Partner. For 40 years, a Korean farmer dragged his wife and his ox to the fields, refusing to use machinery and claiming that his trusty animal was “better than a human being.” If you were in his shoes, you might agree: Though it’s intermittently sad, the film is little more than the wife’s incessant bitching that she’s suffered because she “met the wrong man,” the continual ringing of the ox’s bell, and conversations that seem to take place solely for the benefit of the camera. “Oh, he’s so exasperating!” the wife says. So is the movie.


At 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 20; also on Sunday, June 21, at 5:30 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre.

Cat Ladies

At 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16; also on Friday, June 19, at 11:30 p.m. at Round House Theatre.

Old Partner

At 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 18; also at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, at AFI Silver Theatre.