From the bark of the dog to the howl of the wolf, the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival offers three Dogtastic films, April 11-15, 2012
ARThound’s love of film is only exceeded by her love of dogs! I am delighted to report that three films screening at the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, which begins today in scenic Sonoma, are about dogs and wolves. Each film offers a different take on the profoundly touching canine human connection, from Andrew Simpson’s Wolves Unleashed, a documentary shot in location in Siberia, to Gerardo Olivares’ Among Wolves (Entre Lobos), a feature based on a true story of Spanish boy raised in the wild among wolves, to Romanus Wolter’s new comedy Doggie Boogie, a heartwarming story that featuring doggie dancing.
Andrew Simpson is a world-renowned animal trainer based in Alberta Canada who has worked with major Hollywood film studios on more than 100 projects. Wolves Unleashed (2011, 89 minutes) documents his 2009 trip to Siberia, where he travelled with his pack of 13 wolves to shoot a movie in a remote camp in the mountains of Siberia. This is documentary that evolved in the course of making a film that never came to fruition. Simpson and his crew lived in isolation with his wolves for 5 months, essentially forming a human-canine pack. Wolves Unleashed lays bare the innner workings of both the human and canine crew, revealing how remarkably intelligent, sensitive and social the wolves are as they are readied for their various roles in the film. As the temperatures plummet to-60C, the film crew and wolves are tested physically and mentally and Simpson begins to question everything he knows about wolves. In some very emotionally vulnerable moments, he speaks candidly about how difficult it is to violate the trust an animal has placed in you for the sake of film footage, an obvious downside to working in the film industry. Filmmaker Andrew Simpson will attend. (Screens: Friday, April 13, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at the Sonoma Community Center and Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:00a.m. at the Sebastiani Winery Barrel Room.)
Gerardo Olivares’ documentary Among Wolves (Entre Lobos)(2010, Spain, 114 minutes) is based on a remarkable true story that took place in Spain’s breathtaking Cordoba mountains. Marcos (Manuel Angel Camacho) was born in 1946 into a very poor and abusive family. As it was common at the time, when his family slipped into extreme poverty, and Marcos was just 7, he was sold by his father to the district’s wealthy landowner to settle some of their outstanding debts. The landowner considered him slave labor and sent him to help one of his goat keepers (Sancho Gracia) in a remote valley within the Sierra Morena mountains. A few months later, the goat keeper dies and Marcos is left alone, living in a cave, to fend for himself. He spends the next 12 years without any human contact and learns the painful lessons of survival, becoming more animal-like over time. He carries around a pet ferret that gradually helps him hunt and befriends a special wolf cub, “lobito,” along with owls and other animals. At age 20, Marcos is caught by the police as he is crossing the woods barefoot, dressed in animal skins, and with his hair down to his waist. (Screens Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at the Sonoma Charter School and Sunday, April 15 2012 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sonoma Community Center.)
Entre Lobos is part of “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta, ” a special festival-within-a festival, in honor of SIFF’s 15th birthday and celebrating Spanish-language filmmakers from across the globe which starts Friday evening and runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All films will be presented in Spanish with English subtitles at the Sonoma Charter School. Ticket prices for each film will be $1, with childcare provided.
Romanus Wolter’s comedy Doggie Boogie makes its world premiere at SIFF. Audiences will cheer as Pijo – a devoted Bichon pup – helps his owner and her dog-dancing uncle go for their dreams. Dog dancing, also called “Canine Freestyle,” is an international competitive sport where dog and human pairs dance in front of judges. Doggie Boogie’s message is that it is never too early or too late to go for your dream. Filmmaker will attend. (Screens Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 9:30am at Vintage House.) Dogs are allowed to attend!
The 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival, pairs 5 nights and 4 days of nearly nonstop screenings— 123 new films of all genres from more than 30 countries— with great gourmet food and wine. Festival Details: www.sonomafilmfest.org. A variety of festival passes and ticket options are available.