The Story of the Crazy Cat Man
Rafed Alharthi is Encounters’ first Emirati director. I sat down with the twenty-five year-old director of Feeding Five Hundred (United Arab Emirates), to find out how he found the subject for his first film: a man who feeds five hundred cats every single day.
Rafed Alharthi: “It [has been] difficult to find this guy… I read about him in an article in a newspaper. Feeding five hundred cats a day?! It’s something different. I called the journalist [who wrote about him] to get his number and to find this guy, but I [didn’t] find the number and then [I spent] six months looking for this guy. In newspapers, in the street, asking some people [but they] didn’t know about this guy. Then, [I’m] out on the road, I’m driving my car and I’m talking to somebody [on the phone], still looking for this guy and all of a sudden — I found him right in front of me! Feeding cats! So I park my car, and I go to him directly and he was shocked!
“Yeah, I’m Sadiq! How do you know me?!”
“You’ve made me crazy! I’ve been looking for you for six months!”
But it was difficult for him to understand what I wanted… I wanted to do a film about him, but when I told him my idea he didn’t agree with me. He [didn’t] like that idea; he said, “I do this for myself, not to show everybody [or] for the media. I’m a good guy, I’m [busy] feeding five hundred cats!”
I pleaded with him, and told him that everything would be fine, and [finally] he agreed! So, I went directly to Creative Lab and to twofour54, and I said “Listen guys. I’ve got this story — please accept it! There’s no time and the guy, well…” So they said okay. This was in September 2011, and they gave me [some workshops], where I learned how to shoot, direct, edit… Then we started the project, and now we’re here! All because there’s a guy who’s here in Abu Dhabi and he’s spending 99% of his income on the cats.”
Creative Lab: “Everything was so original — Rafed [looking for Sadiq for six months], Sadiq being from Abu Dhabi, living on the street and feeding cats — and all of it happening in the city that we live in. So yeah, it was a good package! He didn’t have to work hard to sell it to us!”
By Simran Hans
Feeding Five Hundred is in competition Brief Encounters Grand Prix, Audience Award and Best Short Documentary categories, and screens on Wednesday 18th September at 17.30PM.