At the New York Cats and Dogs Film Festivals, Love, Licks and Looniness | ET REALITY


The film events that Angelika will debut at Village East this weekend will not feature any of the acclaimed actors from the recently concluded New York Film Festival. Some of the leading figures in these films have been known to jump on their directors, fall asleep on the job, drool on camera, and chew scenery (in every sense).

But it’s no surprise: they are among the four-legged artists at the sixth annual edition. New York Cat Film Festival and the eighth annual New York Dog Film Festival. Each offers short documentary and fictional works that illustrate how people affect the lives of animals and how animals affect the lives of people, usually in positive ways.

“I try to limit them to movies that are lighter and just lift you up.” Tracie Hotchnersaid the founder of both festivals, in a video interview. And although some of the dogs and cats featured are in difficult circumstances, the films, he added, are “more of a celebration of the groups that rescue them.”

These grassroots film programs also benefit their subjects: Of the $18 all-inclusive ticket price for each festival, 10 percent goes to a pet adoption nonprofit. (He Screenings in Manhattan will help support Muddy Paws Rescue and Meowing Parlor Cats.) And fans who can’t see the shows this weekend will be able to see them in the coming months when they tour independent theaters across the country and in Canada.

“These are not, you know, Hollywood-style movies,” said Hotchner, a Vermont-based author, radio host and podcaster. They are “like the poetry of movies.”

Some are clearly light verses. The 102-minute feline festivalat noon on Saturday, includes “The Cat Duet,” by Lorelei De Armas and Julian Wood, 12-year-olds from Detroit who filmed themselves singing “Duetto buffo di due gatti”, a comic song often attributed to Rossini. (The only letter is “Meow”). The 110 Minute Dog Festivalat noon on Sunday, features Nepal Arslan’47 Seconds’, his haiku-like response to discovering decades-old images of a couple with a dog eerily similar to their own.

“Silent Paws”, from the global initiative Mutual rescueIt even incorporates an actual poem: a work of the same title by Gabriel Sperathat moves during a eulogy for lost feline companions.

However, none of the festivals lack serious documentaries. “Bear the Courthouse Canine” by Michelle Williams explores the critical role a gentle Labrador retriever plays for the district attorney of Contra Costa County, California. Trained to remain under the witness stand during trials, Bear comfort traumatized victims who are testifying, especially children.

“BARC if you need help” dogs work on the other side of the criminal justice system. Produced by the Latham Foundation for the Promotion of Human Educationthis film examines Develop responsibility and compassion in adolescentsa program in Michigan that recruits juvenile delinquents to train animals, often pit bulls who also have troubled histories.

“It’s like a mirror for them,” Tula Assselanis, director of the documentary, said of the participating teenagers. And the film suggests that “redemption is a powerful possibility, simply through the use of the human-animal bond.”

But what surprised Hotchner most about this year’s festival performances was how much they tried to capture the inner lives of animals.

With cats, “it’s like, you know, ‘ET,’” she said. “Then this alien comes into your life, and he is so beautiful and charming. But what motivates them?”

The filmmakers’ speculations are often comical, as in “Insomnia,” by Kim betterwhich provides subtitles detailing a cat’s musings on the most unlikely of feline problems: “Embarrassingly, I thought about sleeping with a dog.”

Other films that venture inside the minds of their subjects include Ned Thanhouserfrom the docudrama “Ranger: Canine Alpinist,” which relies on voice-over to relate the perspective of a dog who helped human climbers on Mount Hood in Oregon nearly a century ago. In the fiction “Set Adrift”, the British director Jennifer Sheridan He uses only the expressiveness of his furry actor to convey the pain of a dog. Peta HitchensThe Australian documentary “Filming Dogs” investigates a psychological question: Do pets like yours really like acting in movies and television?

Interestingly, Juhi Sharma’s comedy “Purrrfect Intervention” does not feature animals. even the credits. Kisha Peartwho produced and wrote it, plays a New Yorker so obsessed with cats that her friends organize treatment for her.

“Obviously, I’m a cat lover,” Peart said, adding that she turned her own pet’s camera shyness into a visual joke. Her character, she said, is “this crazy cat lady, but where are her cats?”

Live animals will not attend the screenings either, but they will be in parties on the eve of each festival. These celebrations, which require separate tickets, will feature a meeting with the filmmakers and authors of books about pets. One of Hotchner’s contacts even arranged for a celebrity to visit the dog festivities: Bastian the talking terrierwhose Youtube channel It has almost two million subscribers.

“I don’t know any famous dogs,” said Hotchner, who owns two Weimaraners. “But he said yes.”

New York Cat Film Festival

Saturday at Angelika’s Village East, Manhattan;

New York Dog Film Festival

Sunday at Angelika’s Village East, Manhattan;

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