Chattering Class

Documentarian Theo Anthony Finds the Parallels Between Rats and Racism

Matthew Fouse in Theo Anthony’s RAT FILM (Photo Credit: MEMORY)

The new documentary “Rat Film” examines race — and a slew of other issues — in a way you’ve likely never seen before: It takes Baltimore’s longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It’s an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film, and it’s earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog.

“I think I really wanted to show the diversity of different relationships to rats,” Theo told Rico during the interview. “And I think that, to a large extent, you can actually really tell a lot [about a person] by their relationships to rats.”

The movie lands in Theaters September 15. In the audio above, you can hear Rico talk with Theo about how he got interested in rats, how Baltimore’s very different approaches to pest control mirror society’s very different approaches to poverty, and how “an intellectual summit” in a Glendale hotel changed his life.