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Sundance: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet/El perro que no calla

This gentle poetic film follows the story of Sebastian (Daniel Katz), a young graphic designer making his way through life. His sweet dog misses him when he’s gone. Her cries annoy the neighbors Sebastian’s employers don’t want her around either. As time passes, Sebastian mourns the death of his dog, struggles to find steady work and becomes a new father. Then there is a new pandemic which causes humans to pass out if they stand up straight. In order to survive humans must crouch under 4 feet or wear an expensive bubble over their heads.

Directed by Ana Katz, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet/El perro que no calla is a somber film that covers a lot of ground in just over an hour. It’s shot in black and white and the lead actor Katz offers a beautifully subdued performance. However, despite its best intentions the film falls flat offering the viewer little by way of substance. For dog lovers, the early scenes are really tough to watch. A couple poignant scenes are told through hand-drawn illustrations. I wish this would have been implemented more. I also had hoped that the unusual pandemic was a more substantial part of the film and would be explained. I couldn’t quite connect with the story or the main character expect for his genuine connection with his dog.

The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet/El perro que no calla premiered at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

SXSW: We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Dogs bring us so much joy. They care not about our race, ethnicity, appearance, status, reputation or wealth (or lack thereof). They love us unconditionally in a way that other humans are incapable of. That’s why people from all walks of life love dogs. Some mistreat them but many of us fight for their rights. Dogs are a beloved member of our global family.

“A relationship with a dog is better than any relationship you’ll have with a human… They don’t know the bad side. They just know the good side.”

Directed by Matthew Sellah and produced by Rose Tucker, We Don’t Deserve Dogs is a series of vignettes about the impact dogs have on humans. Numerous countries are represented. Some of the most interesting stories include Ugandan kidnapping survivors who use dogs as a form of therapy for their PTSD, an older gentleman who is still haunted by the memory of abandoning his dog 20 years earlier, the Chilean street dog who goes by many names and depends on the kindness of strangers and the dog walker in Istanbul who walks over 30km a day taking care of the neighborhood dogs. The filmmakers interview a wide variety of subjects. Each story is unique in its own way. The cinematography is quite stunning. Low shots at the dogs’ level make for a very intimate point of view.

The film was shot over 13 months and in 11 countries including Chile, Uganda, Peru, Italy, Turkey, Pakistan, Finland, Romania, Vietnam,
Nepal, and Scotland.

I had two major issues with the film. First of all, there was no lower third. The audience doesn’t learn the names of the subjects or where their from. I could pick up on some clues but otherwise I was confused about which countries are represented. This may be to strip the focus away from the humans and onto the dogs but I think a lower third could have helped. The second is a huge trigger for dog lovers. One vignette follows a Vietnamese couple who kill dogs and sell their meat. The dogs provide a form of income for them but I do think this segment was unnecessary and difficult to watch. Removing it would make for a better film overall.

We Don’t Deserve Dogs was set to have its world premiere at the SXSW film festival. You can find more information about the film over on the Urtext Films website.

Slamdance: A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro

A routine operation on a dog ends in tragedy when veterinarian Mario (Guillermo Arengo) makes a crucial mistake. Whether it was negligence or an error in judgment we’re not sure. What we do know is that the dog is dead and the owner is mad.

Mario and his recent retiree wife Silvia (Pelusa Vidal) live cushy lives in Montevideo, Uruguay and they want to keep it that way. The dog’s death is a catalyst for the chaos in their lives. Protestors make a scene outside Mario’s clinic. Someone has broken into their home and Silvia suspects their maid. When Mario and Silvia stay at their daughter’s home for a while, paranoia sets in. A violent act sets Mario and Silvia in motion to preserve their status quo.

Written and directed by Matias Ganz, A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro is a quiet and subversive thriller that demonstrates the lengths people will go to keep their comfortable lifestyles. There is a clear message about the social and economic inequalities of present day Uruguay. The subjects who suffer the most are the maid and her boyfriend who are lower on the social ladder as indigenous blue collar workers. Mario and Silvia as more prosperous Caucasians benefit from their status and can easily cover up their irrational behaviors. 

Ganz was inspired to tell a story about the social and political turmoil of his home country with an influx of immigrants and a strong culture that takes pride in their European ancestry. In his director’s statement he says…

“A large part of the country’s population is of European descent and does not feel like they belong to those who have been wrongfully named Latinos… Politicians latch on to any petty crime to enhance their electoral chances… thus feeding the people’s growing sense of insecurity.”

A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro captures the social turmoil of a country in flux through its focus on the absurd actions of a microcosm of its upper middle class culture.

A Dog’s Death/La Muerte de un perro had its North American premiere at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival.

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