I came to the Sundance Film Festival this year as a reward for good behavior – my own! It started as a bucket list item many years ago to some day visit Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort. Then, why not “stop in” for the Sundance Film Festival. Alas, the Festival was always at the same time as the fabulous North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), held each January in Orlando, Florida. Duty eclipsed a lifelong crush. Then, the impossible happened, NAVC moved its conference to early February and – no more excuses.
As anyone who has attended knows, you don’t just “stop in” to Sundance. Joining the Sundance Institute has allowed me to become reacquainted with the broader context of storytelling through film, but also pets in the media, a topic we’ve covered intermittently before. Over the years, our community has shared their pet filmography through contests and we’ve promoted and critiqued both studio and independent films.
So here we are back at it again, seeking the dogs of Sundance. I’m thrilled to be attending the world premiere screening on Sunday of Downward Dog, / U.S.A. (Creators: Michael Killen, Samm Hodges, Showrunners: Kat Likkel, John Hoberg) — My favorite aspect of this story of a struggling millennial, Nan, is that it is not only observed from the point of view of her lonely and philosophical dog, Martin but that the film’s writers found Martin as a rescue dog. The Festival will premiere the first four episodes of this ABC series scheduled to air next summer, followed by an extended Q&A with the cast, creators and showrunners. Cast: Allison Tolman, Samm Hodges, Lucas Neff, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Barry Rothbart. Check out the trailer!
Sunday is also the North American Premiere of RED DOG: True Blue / Australia (Director: Kriv Stenders, Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz) — When 11-year-old Mick is shipped off to his grandfather’s cattle station in Australia’s remote Pilbara, he prepares himself for a life of dull hardship but instead finds myth, adventure and a friendship with a scrappy, one-of-a-kind pup that will change his life forever. Cast: Levi Miller, Bryan Brown, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Thomas Cocquerel, Jason Isaacs. Watch the trailer below!
Park City where the festival is held is also known as Bark City for its pet friendly atmosphere. It’s a bit chilly during the festival but be sure to check out @goodnewsforpets or @lgerminder for any dog sightings “on the street” and stay tuned for more pet film coverage.