By: Christy Oldham @demigoddesspictures
Westwood, California- Los Angeles celebrated its love for dogs at the cities first-ever Dog Film Festival on June 5th, showcasing the exceptional connection between dogs and their humans. The Canine has been a humans’ constant companion for centuries after all. So much so that in fact, a team of international researchers scientifically concluded that dogs were domesticated not once but twice, both in Europe and Asia; two different groups of people living thousands of miles apart who loved and appreciated the company of dogs some 14,000 years ago. And here in Hollywood, we love dogs so much that we make movies about them!
Founded by Tracie Hotchner, the first annual Dog Film Festival was held at The Crest Theatre in Westwood to a packed house of eager humans and their dogs. Presented by the Radio Pet Lady Network and made possible by a generous grant from the Petco Foundation, the Dog Film Festival honored the canine with two programming blocks of film screenings.
Each block was composed of short films in the genres of animation, documentary and live action narrative with ticket sales benefiting The Lange Foundation and Downtown Dog Rescue.
Remastered specifically for The Dog Film Festival, The Hardly Boys In Hardly Gold, directed by world renowned photographer William Wegman, was a standout twenty eight minute film, shot on 35mm in 1995, and that which screened at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Wegman’s work always stars his famous Weimaraner dogs including “Man Ray“, “Fay Ray“ and Fay’s litter “Battina“, “Crooky“ and “Chundo“.
The animated short, The Lewis Lectures, by Merrill Markoe, was a great film which depicted what dogs are actually thinking and doing when we leave the house without them. Useful Dog Tricks by Heather Brook highlighted the multiple ways that her adorable Jack Russell “Jesse” helps her around the house.
The second block was even more diverse with the inclusion of French Foreign films Le Sauvetage and La Vie D’un Chien, the latter being my favorite which demonstrated superb filmmaking execution with narration and the photo shopping of still photographs under a sci-fi inspired motif in black & white, making it a perfect canine Film Noir.
The 1999 15 minute documentary NYC-Life on a Leash, by Mike Carroll, was by far the most entertaining for the canine audience members who howled and barked with excitement as they watched a dog walker bring a pack of dogs to the park. More highlights below: