Catch these ‘Cats’: A sweet film from Japan (review)

The North Park Theatre in Buffalo recently screened a small-scale, sweet film from Japan called “Island of Cats.” Here are some thoughts, originally for

Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of a cat person. (I know, I know — I’m a jerk.) But a lovely 2019 film from Japan titled Island of Cats might have swung me. It’s a sweet, simple story of an aging widower, his beloved cat, and the various folks who inhabit a small island. 

And in wonderful news for both cat fanciers and Buffalo film fans, it screens twice — at 7 p.m. on Feb. 29 and Mar. 1 — at the North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.). Island does not have an American distributor yet, meaning this is an exclusive booking for the North Park. 

Actor Shinosuke Tatekawa plays Daikichi, a contented man who spends most of his time accompanied by his cat, Tama. He moves slowly these days; his son would like his father to move in with him in Tokyo. 

Director Mitsuaki Iwagô’s camera moves at a leisurely pace, appropriate for a film whose characters are in no hurry. The many cats inhabiting the island hop about, while Daikichi and his similarly aged friends putter about. Excitement arrives when a beautiful newcomer opens a trendy cafe. 

Stories are told, friends fall ill (and worse), and Tama and his four-legged friends watch, wide-eyed. Island of Cats is not a film of action, but it’s never dull, either. It’s a knowing, warm-hearted drama unlike anything else currently playing in American cinemas. 

Screening before Island is Cat Video Fest 2020, making this a weekend sure to please fans of all things feline. 

Visit for tickets or more info on both films. Remember, it might be impossible to see Island of Cats again any time soon. Don’t miss this chance to see it at the North Park.