The two annual cinematic festivals invariably attract passionate ticket buyers, even as they lack car chases, explosions, alien invasions or Daniel Craig as the inflated James Bond.
What they have: sideburns, savagery, and a lot of ingenuity.
These are NY Cat Film Festival and NY Dog Film Festival, both returning to Manhattan after a hiatus caused by the pandemic. The Cat Festival, which will take place on Saturday noon – World Cat Day – at the Village East by Angelika Theater, consists of 21 short films that last for a total of about 90 minutes. The nearly two-hour dog festival, which will take place at the same theater on October 24, will feature 20 short films. (Animal lovers outside of New York can also see festivals: they will be touring for several months both across the country and across Canada.)
“I think this is probably the best year for both,” said Tracy Hotchner, a Vermont-based writer and radio host who founded the 2015 dog festival and launched cats two years later. In a telephone interview, she explained that in the early days of quarantine in 2020, “people couldn’t find toilet paper, but they made great films.”
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic is celebrated at both festivals. In the feline comedy “Will You Be My Quarantine,” actress and director Susku Ekim Kaya shows herself and her pet, Lady Leia, on a split screen, engaging in typically intrusive activities such as grooming, watching TV, scrolling a cell phone, and making FaceTime calls. … … They lead a harmonious parallel life, while the feline protagonists of The Quarantine Diary Jasmine Scooteri-Young and House Cats Asali Echols complain about the constant presence of their masters in the voice-overs created by humans.
On the other hand, dog parties never seek social distancing. “You don’t believe in personal space,” Kyle Scoble tells Darla, his Labrador Retriever / Pointer mix, in The Second Time I Recognized My Dog, about how Darla got him. until 2020.
But cats may have a reason for their apparently estranged attitude. “If it’s a domestic cat, it’s constantly isolated,” said Kim Best, a director in Durham, North Carolina, in a telephone conversation.
This observation is fueled by Best’s Great Escape, in which a cat named Monkey makes concerted attempts to get out of the house, even consulting Alex’s digital assistant, whom he waves and meows. At another Best festival, Cat Capitalization, her pet, Noob, turns to the Internet to sell her artistic talent, pretentiously thanking — in thought bubbles — mentors such as artists Mark Rothko and Vincent Van Gogh. (Noob has one ear slightly missing.)
Best said she sought to “ridicule not only capitalism, but academia as well.”
This kind of humor is the theme of the Cat Festival, where films such as Nevada Caldwell’s Cat Noir and Priscilla Dean’s Cat Fight in O’Key Penn are parodies of old Hollywood clichés.
But while the canine cinematic films have been laughed at – David Cool’s animated two-minute comedy about revenge is an animated two-minute comedy about revenge – it has much more in-depth exploration of the human-animal connection that was previously characteristic of both festivals.
Love in the Streets, such as the Brazilian documentary by Thiago Koche, tells the story of the homeless people of Porto Alegre, who often take better care of their dogs than they do themselves. Loyal pets are also a source of concern for passers-by, who often ignore the suffering of pet owners.
“People who love dogs just turn a blind eye to people,” Hotchner said. “I would like more films about this because I think this is something we don’t want to watch.”
Comfortable dogs also demonstrate the power of pet ownership. Made by Matthew Salleh and Rose Tucker, an Australian couple who live and work together in Brooklyn, this film is an excerpt from their documentary We Don’t Deserve Dogs. The segment focuses on the Comfortable Dog project, which provides pets to young people who were forced to become child soldiers during the Ugandan civil war.
With the dogs on their side, ex-soldiers can share “rather excruciating” experiences, Salleh said in a joint telephone conversation. “Dogs have almost become part of the storytelling method itself.”
Another documentary, Zach Putnam’s Nicola, illustrates how his subject, the yellow lab from Canine Companions, a disability service program, changed more than just the life of the college student who accepted her. She also taught a strong lesson of trust and self-sacrifice to a student who selflessly taught her, but ultimately, with tears in her eyes, had to abandon her.
However, both festivals remind viewers that these animals need humans as much as humans. Hotchner, who organizes the programs with love (tickets cost $ 20 each), always donates a portion of the sale of each show to the appropriate local charity. The New York City Cat Festival will help support the Bideawee Wildcat Initiative, and this year all dog shows will benefit non-profit organizations associated with Aged Dogs Rescue Week (October 25-31).
“There is growing awareness,” says Covid, “that older dogs are a pleasure to adopt and put in a shelter the quickest,” Hotchner said. In Legends of a Comedy Sharing Love for Old Dogs by Gary Tellaen, you will hear this announcement in an official announcement from celebrities who are themselves seniors: Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart and Lily Tomlin, as well as Karl Reiner, who died last June. at 98.
The plight of dogs who are not cute puppies is also evident in documentaries like Not Broken: Freedom Ride by Christa Dillane, Emma Lao and Dylan Abad, about the long journey of transporting 53 rescued dogs from Louisiana to a pet adoption fair. in Rhode Island. In Chino, another excerpt from We Don’t Deserve Dogs, an aging subject, a street mongrel in Santiago, Chile, survives simply because concerned residents care for him.
“The culture of street dogs there is completely different,” Tucker said, adding that animals are a way to “just bring the whole community together” – the goal of these festivals.
New York Cat Film Festival
October 16 at Village East by Angelika, Manhattan; catfilmfestival.com.
New York Dog Film Festival
October 24 at Village East by Angelika, Manhattan; dogfilmfestival.com.