This new documentary highlights Baltimore's rat wars and its urban planning failures. Baltimore, like so many urban centers around the world is plagued by a rat problem. “Rat Film,” made by Baltimore resident Theo Anthony, is alternately amusing and troubling. A parade of rat-centric characters troops through it, including one man who loves them so much he happily lets them climb on his head while he plays a flute; an exterminator who turns out to be a closet philosopher; a guy who hunts them down with a blowgun and almost religious fervor; and a homeless trio with a surprising, and decidedly gritty, musical bent. It also features a history lesson that begins in the early part of the 20th century, when Baltimore became the first city in the nation to pass a residential segregation law, restricting blacks and whites to certain sections of the city (such laws were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a few years later). It should come as no surprise that the most poor and minority areas of the city that were "redlined" by the real estate industry are the most rat infested. Rats and poor urban planning come together is some unexpected ways. The movie ends with an alternate take on the city’s future that almost makes sense, in the most unsettling of ways.
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