London-based Bulgarian directors Vesela Kazakova and Mina Mileva first established themselves with their politically charged, controversial documentaries Uncle Tony, Three Fools, and the Secret Service (2014) and The Beast Is Still Alive (2016), earning them the title of the “demonic duo” from a member of the Bulgarian parliament. With Cat In the Wall, they transport their documentary style and commitment to realism into the world of fiction, telling the story of a family of Bulgarian immigrants living in a social housing unit in working-class London. Surrounded by xenophobia and the tense uncertainty of Brexit, and watching, powerless, as they are made victims of the gentrification process in their neighborhood, Irina, her brother Vladimir, and her little son Jojo cling to a fragile stability inside the walls of their apartment, a stability suddenly threatened by the arrival of the titular cat.
Inspired by true events in Mileva’s life, the film’s social realism is further enhanced by handheld camerawork, dingy, cluttered settings, and compellingly naturalistic performances from the cast. Loaded with frustration and anxiety, Cat In the Wall takes a critical look at the loss of tolerance as walls, both literal and figurative, are constructed between different parts of society. But it is also tinged with a comic sense of absurdity; seen from Irina’s point of view, current events and politics are so nonsensical and ludicrous that at times one has to laugh.