A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway: How ‘Be My Cat’ Ruined the Reputation of a Genre Genius
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway: How ‘Be My Cat’ Ruined the Reputation of a Genre Genius

A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway: How ‘Be My Cat’ Ruined the Reputation of a Genre Genius



A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway: How ‘Be My Cat’ Ruined the Reputation of a Genre Genius

On Friday nights, IndieWire After Dark takes a feature-length beat to honor fringe cinema in the streaming age. 

First, the spoiler-free pitch for one editor’s midnight movie pick — something weird and wonderful from any age of film that deserves our memorializing. 

Then, the spoiler-filled aftermath as experienced by the unwitting editor attacked by this week’s recommendation.

The Pitch: Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes?

Adrian Țofei is a small-time genius. He also did this to himself.

If there’s an Icarus of the found footage genre, then it’s the writer, director, and star of “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne.” The indie filmmaker stunned horror audiences in 2015 with his low-budget debut about a Romanian slasher villain — also named Adrian. Yes, Țofei modeled his first-ever major movie character after himself, and then tasked that far too meta avatar with carrying out a remarkably scary killing spree. That choice has fascinated audiences streaming the project online ever since.

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“A marketing idea for ‘Be My Cat’ was releasing viral clips as if uploaded by the psycho,” Țofei told IndieWire via Instagram. (For what it’s worth, he’s been an internet acquaintance of mine for a few years and is nothing if not outright lovely via DM.) “I quickly renounced that fearing festival rejections and confusions in the industry. However, comments increased saying the movie might be genuine.”

BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE, Adrian Tofei, 2015,  © Adrian Tofei / courtesy Everett Collection
Adrian Tofei in “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne”Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Proof that no good idea goes without a gross misunderstanding, Țofei wrapped his initial bolt of brilliance into a meticulously crafted found footage film featuring evidence from a supposedly “real” crime scene. In the movie — which again is A MOVIE — the fictional Adrian’s artistic ambitions collide with his insatiable love for the real-life Anne Hathaway.

“I saw you in ‘Dark Knight Rises,’” the starring sadist chirps in the film. “And you are my actress.”

Adrian’s dreams of making a blockbuster movie akin to Christopher Nolan’s most disappointing Batman outing with the Oscar winner soon find three unsuspecting women: Flory (Florentina Hariton), Sonya (Sonia Teodoriu), and Alexandra Stroe (Alexandra). Convinced he can get Hathaway to say sign onto a title if he just makes a strong enough movie showing his skills as a director, Adrian begins production on a proof of concept project that quickly blooms into an especially unsettling fake snuff film.

1711169413 529 A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway How ‘Be My | ManOfTheCenturyMovie
Fan art received by Adrian Țofei

As technically adept as it is subtly assaulting, Țofei’s first film is told by way of the bustling(?) eastern European casting couch. When each of Adrian’s would-be starlets, fittingly found via an advertisement the predator placed online, starts to realize what’s going on, they must try out different tactics to survive. All the while, Adrian is fixating on how their deaths… and his direction… might look to Anne. (Hathaway is addressed directly by the character throughout the film, but has never responded to the project publicly.)

“We worked on it for months so it looks real, and now it’s ironic how I have to pin to my socials that everything, including the character I play, is 100% fictional,” Țofei wrote IndieWire. “And that no actress was endangered in the making, and that I have no weird thoughts towards Anne Hathaway. I just loved her performance in ‘Les Miserables.’”

Falling victim to his own fans in a gloriously meta bout of Adrian-on-Adrian crime, Țofei has developed a passionate but somewhat misguided cult fandom. The “Be My Cat” provocateur routinely receives art created by lovers of his work; some of it is “creepier than the movie itself,” he joked, and seemingly designed not with Adrian the Actual Filmmaker but with Adrian the Fictional Killer in mind.

“Unfortunately for those who like to imagine that some of it is real, and fortunately for those who fear that possibility, all is acting, directing and storytelling,” Țofei said. —AF

If you are a filmmaker with a lesser known work of fringe cinema you’d like to see featured on IndieWire After Dark, email Alison Foreman (aforeman@indiewire.com) and Christian Zilko (czilko@indiewire.com). Make it weird, please!

The Aftermath: A Film for Anne. An After Dark for Adrian.

Spend enough time watching and evaluating fringe cinema and you’ll find that one question pops up more than any other: Do I like this movie, or do I like the fact that it exists?

It’s a topic that requires a bit of nuance, because midnight movie culture has always made room for films that aren’t “good” by conventional aesthetic standards. But throw on “The Room” or “Any Which Way You Can” in the right setting and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a crowd of people who are genuinely enjoying themselves. Maybe not for the exact reasons that the authors intended, but the contents of the film are bringing true happiness to the people consuming it.

But there’s a whole galaxy of gimmicky slasher movies, made-for-TV holiday monstrosities, ill-advised attempts at turning rock bands into actors, and other cinematic shlock that’s much more fun to reference than it is to actually watch. They might be worth seeking out once in a lifetime so that you can hoard their existence over your friends at trivia night or the readers of your niche IndieWire column, but they’d be just as enjoyable as fake movie posters in a “Seinfeld” episode as actual viewing experiences.

A Fake Snuff Film for Anne Hathaway How ‘Be My | ManOfTheCenturyMovie
(Left to right): Florentina Hariton, Sonia Teodoriu, and Alexandra Stroe in “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne”

When I first encountered “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne,” I wasn’t sure which category it would fit into. I instantly respected Adrian Țofei’s bold willingness to follow such a realistic premise about toxic fan culture to its logical conclusion, but I figured that this kind of project ran the risk of slipping into novelty territory. The film carries on a proud tradition of found footage horror films that try to convince audiences that what they’re watching is actually real. But the extreme pop cultural literacy that the internet has bestowed upon us made me wonder if those kinds of gimmicks even have value anymore.

But I was thrilled to find that the film is much more than a publicity stunt thanks to the strength of one human being — and it’s not Anne Hathaway. Țofei’s character work is deeply unsettling, and I’ll admit that casting myself in such a fucked up role while using my own name is perhaps not the choice I would have made for my introduction to the world. But it’s hard not to admire the guts it takes to put yourself in such a fraught position for your art. Each viewer will have to make their own judgement about where the real Tofei lands on the brilliance-to-craziness spectrum, but I have no doubt that he was the only person capable of embodying “Be My Cat” with the skin-crawling disgust that has made it stick with me for so long.

(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbdP9Zc5uGs(/embed)

The film’s insistence on blurring the line between cinema and reality and use of Hathaway’s real name means that many audiences will never fully separate the phenomenon of its existence from the film itself. But I still hope that anyone brave enough to seek this one out — perhaps as part of a perverse double feature with “The Idea of You” — can appreciate what Tofei put himself through in his quest to make his vision a reality.

Wishing that the legacy of “Be My Cat” will eventually transcend the phenomenon of “Did you hear that creepy Romanian guy actually made a movie about stalking Anne Hathaway?” might be asking for too much. But I hope that at least a few of our beloved After Dark readers can realize that the creepy Romanian guy also made a damn good horror movie, regardless of whose name is in the title. —CZ

Those brave enough to join in on the fun can stream “Be My Cat: A Film for Anne” free on YouTube, Tubi, Fandango At Home, and The Roku Channel. IndieWire After Dark publishes midnight movie recommendations at 11:59 p.m. ET every Friday. Read more of our deranged suggestions…

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  • Les Blank’s ‘Burden of Dreams’ Sees Werner Herzog Try to Push a 320-Ton Ship Up a Hill in the Jungle
  • ‘A Zed & Two Noughts’ Is the Lust-Filled Zoological Tragedy That Belongs in a Midnight Movie Museum

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