TORONTO -- The premiere of "Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat" Tuesday night at the Toronto Film Festival was marred by a confrontation between animal-rights activists and the man who killed the cat.
Jesse Power, the subject of the film, showed up at the premiere at the Cumberland Theater, and, per fest organizers, taunted the 100 animal-rights protesters there.
Power was detained by Toronto police and cautioned for breach of the peace, but was not charged.
The Canuck documentary has caused controversy ever since it was announced that it would play the fest, with animal-rights groups saying fest is endorsing cruelty to animals.
In 2001, Power pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and mischief charges after police discovered that he and two friends had videotaped themselves killing a cat to protest the factory slaughter of farm animals. The doc is a look at this bizarre incident.
Toronto fest co-director Noah Cowan didn't try to hide his anger that Power had been invited to the premiere. Fest organizers said the pic producer invited Power even though fest had asked for him not to attend.
"I'm always sad when the conversation is not about the film and becomes about people doing stupid stuff," Cowan said. "We made it very clear that Power would not be welcome. We went to great pains to focus attention away from him and his video, and on to the social context of the issue of cruelty to animals. This incident only undermines the message of the film."
"Casuistry" producer Linda Feesey refused to say whether she had invited Power to the screening, saying only that "he had a right to be there."