Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
A celebration of dogs and how they make people feel positive
Cats may have you believe they own the internet, but the inaugural Top Dog Film Festival is further proof dogs rule the BIG screen.
For ONE NIGHT ONLY a 2 hour cinematic celebration honours the bond between dogs and their people. This carefully curated program of 8 short canine-themed films is comprised of the most inspirational, heart warming and entertaining stories about dogs and their human companions, from independent film makers from around the world.
Top Dog Film Festival
The Top Dog Film Festival is the brain child of Festival Director, Jemima Robinson, who was initially motivated to seek out other dog films after seeing a movie called Dog Power. You may be already familiar with her other film festivals Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Ocean Film Festival and Dirty Girls Adventure Film Tour.
I just loved Dog Power," said Jemima Robinson. "This movie opened up a whole new world to me which I had never heard of. It is about this guy who wants to get into dog power sports and you compete as a team running, mountain hiking, skiing or sledding. It is just you and your dog. You are a team, competing against other teams."
People were so passionate about competing and their dogs. There was the obvious love between the dogs and their owners and I just could not stop thinking about Dog Power. I couldn't stop telling people about this film. It is only a 30 minute film. It is very difficult to get a 30 minute film screened at movie theatres. So I thought there must be other dog films being made so I put the word out and see what we get. We received 280 entries from around the world. I whittled that down to a program of 8 films, the best of the best, and that is how the Top Dogs Film Festival was created."
Robinson said, "The festival consists of a really diverse variety of dog films. Some are short animation, the longest being a 34 minute film. They are all different stories, but the overall riding theme is unconditional love between dogs and people and their overwhelming positive impact that dogs have on people's lives. Regardless of what the topic of the film is, or how that message is delivered, that is a component of every film, which I think everyone who has loved a dog knows that feeling themselves."
Top Dog - Great Dane from the film Love Unleashed.
Audiences will gain an insight into the world of dog-powered sports, take a 600km hike through the Utah Desert lasting a full dog year and meet a philosophical statesman as he reflects on his younger years. Dog-powered sports include well-known races, such as the Iditarod, that get nearly all of the media attention, but there is so much more. Learn about the international phenomenon of canicross, bike & scooterjoring, skijoring, cart, sprint and middle distance sled dog racing, and how we built this growing community of support known as DP1.
Robinson said, "There are also some beautiful inspirational stories highlighting the impact and turn around positive relationship a dog can have. Two of the most powerful stories are set in prisons in the US. In a Woman's Prison where many women have never had any self-love or felt they were good for anything, their relationship with a dog has changed their lives around."
One male prisoner had been incarcerated for a long time and thought he would never have a life outside of prison. He was introduced to the dog training program conducted with dogs from a dog shelter where they were on death row. The prisoners retrain the dogs. Some of the dogs become service dogs and have a career with the Police or disabled children or are re-homed."
While the prisoners are turning the dogs into good pets the program is proving a rehabilitation of the prisoners. You will see how one prisoner begins to believe in himself and believe he can do a good thing, and be a good person. He is released from prison and ends up having a good life. He never believed that was possible for him. The training of the dogs and the love he received from the dogs was the whole catalyst for turning his life around.
It is great positive outcome for the dogs, but even more so for the prisoners. For many prisoners it is the first time they have actually felt love, valued and they accomplish something. It brings tears of joy to your eyes when you see the amazing impact they have on prisoners.
Robinson said, "There is a very beautiful film about adopting senior dogs and how the impact they have on people's lives. They dogs have so much love to give, which is a truly a lovely story. There is a really cute 3 minute animation film that is one of my favourites. It is an ode to the first Russian dog, which went into space and what some dogs do for us. Most people will be aware the actual dog is now deceased, so this film is an ode to him, This story has a happy ending, so it is not the true story, but it is a beautiful story."
"One thing that has surprised me is when we have told people about this, the feedback has been, "Oh, I'm going to cry." I think people assume that the dogs are going to die or it is going to be a sad story and that really surprises me. The only tears that appear in this festival are from laughter."
The films are all positive and about celebrating dogs and there are some funny stories as well. It interesting there are a lot of films about dogs that have a sad ending, like Marley and Me and the Disney classic Old Yeller, or even Lassie. Some film directors are so bent on capturing the emotion of people who relate to having a dog, while this festival is 100 per cent about love, a celebration of dogs and how they make people feel positive.