The Dog Film Festival™ is currently touring the country, stopping in eleven cities, including Chicago this Sunday. The festival is the first of its kind and grew out of pet wellness advocate and radio personality Tracie Hotchner's desire to celebrate the extraordinary bond between people and dogs. Inspired by the excitement around the Cat Video Festival, Tracie wondered if there were films out there about dogs - not the famous ones like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, but films made with and because of a genuine love of dogs.
Let us consider the ubiquity and popularity of dog and cat videos on the internet. Now let us ponder the remarkably low number of television shows that actually focus on these pets.
Animal Planet might be the most confounding example; alongside some pretty decent programs about rescued pit bulls and veterinarians at work, the lineup is also stacked with incongruities such as "Insane Pools" and "Treehouse Masters." Why, Animal Planet? Why?
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: Dogs are not welcome at the Chicago stop of the nationally touring Dog Film Festival.
"Dogs get busy and talk back to the screen," explains Tracie Hotchner, host of NPR's Dog Chat, author of The Dog Bible, and the festival's organizer. "They're not respectful." Also, the Music Box Theatre, which is showing the films, does not allow them.
Hotchner did ask her two Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, to help her choose films for the festival, but they weren't interested. "They thought it was boring," Hotchner says. "They're outdoor girls. They're too busy to enjoy movies. So what do you do? You go it alone and go with your gut."
The whole cat video festival thing has been done. Thankfully, a new event envisioned to celebrate dogs on camera sounds like an entirely different, well, animal.
“[The Internet Cat Video Festival] had a different sensibility,” Vermont-based radio host Tracie Hotchner told us. “It was about meeting celebrity cats, many of which were deformed in some way and that was found to be charming. It’s a very different feeling than wanting to have an emotional, intellectual experience about what dogs really mean to us and where they fit in our lives.”
Dogs are the stars of our hearts, and now they'll be the stars of the big screen. The first ever dog film festival—yup, films exclusively about dogs—is coming to the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview. A dream come true, honestly.
The Dog Film Festival, started last year, is making its rounds throughout the country in 12 cities, landing in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 11. The festival will feature two lineups of films, with each program running around 90 minutes and 50 percent of ticket proceeds benefiting PAWS Chicago.
The Petco Foundation presents the first-ever Dog Film Festival, a traveling festival that's perfect for dog lovers of all ages. The festival is comprised of two separate programs of, of course, canine-themed films. Each screening is about 90 minutes long and includes documentary, animated and live-action shorts submitted by dog lovers around the world. PAWS Chicago will receive 50 percent of the proceeds and will have adoptable dogs on site for inspired festival goers to take home.