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Top Dog Film Festival 2020

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by Bernhard Sayer (subscribe)
A freelance writer living in suburban Adelaide, taking his first tentative steps. You can see some of his past work at
Its back, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face

It's back, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The Top Dog Film Festival will wag its tail back into Adelaide on Saturday 24 October from 2.30pm at Goodwood's Capri Theatre (Goodwood Road).

Festival director Jemima Robinson told me that Adelaide's turn on the 2020 schedule comes after successful socially-distanced events in Darwin (at the famous outdoor deckchair cinema), Perth, Alice Springs, Wollongong, Brisbane and Hobart. All bar one sold out so don't leave buying your Adelaide tickets too late!

Once again billed as a collection of heart-warming stories about dogs and their people, this year's festival features eight short films, including two Australian films commissioned exclusively for the festival in addition to a further third film produced down under.

"One of the key issues when the festival started three years ago was that we would have liked to have had more Australian content and share more Australian stories because there's such great stories here about the amazing dogs that we have. This year I'm really delighted that we have three great Australian films."

One of the films commissioned by the festival, 'Dr Dog', profiles three dogs playing an active role in healing and healthcare. From detection dogs in New Zealand specially trained to sniff out signs of bowel cancer, to a diabetes detection dog in Vancouver, and to Sydney where some special pooches are donating blood to save their fellow four-legged friends. The latter in particular presents itself as a particularly thought-provoking piece of cinema, prompting much discussion amongst audience members after the festival screening has finished.

Dr Dog
Dr Dog, one of this year's festival offerings

The other festival commissioned piece is 'Mark and Mya', detailing a human and pup from Melbourne who travelled around North America for a couple of years, showing that travelling with a dog is no barrier to a life of adventure and travel.

Those of us who attended two years ago will fondly remember 'Arthur', a story about a stray dog who was adopted by a Swedish team in an extreme sporting competition. I asked Jemima which of this year's films would see some tears rolling over audience member cheeks. She readily nominated two, 'Cody' and 'Mike and Abbie'.

Cody tells the story of a rescue dog from Romania. Jemima said, "It's an interesting story because the Romanian government were doing a mass cull of dogs, and so local Romanians were putting the word out across the whole of Europe to foster these dogs out, including Cody who got adopted by a person in Switzerland." Jemima says that it considers the philosophical question of how much impact the owner has on the life of the dog, and how we presume that we know what is best for them. "I hadn't really considered things in that way before. You always try to do the right thing for your dog and keep them happy, and it raises bigger questions about their happiness and making decisions for them."

Jemima says 'Mike and Abbie' is a really beautiful and heartfelt rescue story, where a human and dog found joy together through surfing. It's a short film but one of Jemima's highlights of the program. How can you not love the thought of a short film where the human subject says 'I would never have known my full potential if I hadn't helped a shelter dog find hers first'?
Mike Abbie Top Dog Film Festival
Mike and Abbie feature in this year's festival

The festival is once again being hosted by the Capri Theatre on Goodwood Road, with a venue capacity of 45% enabling a big, socially-distanced crowd. The event will be managed in such a fashion that people will be encouraged to stay in the theatre throughout the show (including the interval) wherever possible, but staff will be on hand to ensure that patrons are safely distanced throughout the theatre at all times. All payments will be contactless, and even the raffle will be conducted online. Sadly, with the risk of COVID transmission still a reality, no dogs will be present in the foyer at this year's event.

And while last year the festival spread its paw prints on foreign soil, 2020 is proving difficult but not impossible. "We're still trying to get to New Zealand. We were in the UK last year and I think we'll do the UK again this year, as a special on-line event."

The Top Dog Film Festival returns to Adelaide for the third time on the afternoon of Saturday 24 October from 2.30pm at the Capri Theatre on Goodwood Road. Tickets available at - but don't leave it too late! Tickets range from $18 to under $28.

You can view a trailer for this year's festival at And, if you haven't been to the festival before, you can visit Adventure Reels TV webpage at and see a compilation of films from previous years. And, you can take extra special joy in this year's festival poster model being Luna, Jemima's new cattle dog!
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Why? It's fun!
When: 2.30pm to 5pm
Where: Capri Theatre, Goodwood Road, Goodwood
Cost: Tickets range from $18 to under $28
Your Comment
What a most delightful festival. Unfortunately I have a triple booking for that time - October 24 - but perhaps there will be a reprise?
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1501) 182 days ago
Looks great! It would be even better at the Drive-in, where we took our dog to see the tear-jerker ‘A Dog’s Way Home’.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4196) 181 days ago
Aww I've missed this, maybe they can show it again.
by loutr (score: 1|34) 174 days ago
by Bernhard Sayer on 11/07/2019
by Bernhard Sayer on 22/07/2018
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