Chicago Film Festival is for the Dogs

Group Of Dogs With Owners At Obedience ClassChicago dog lovers rejoiced on Sunday, Sept. 11 when the Music Box Theatre hosted a film festival dedicated to man’s best friend.

While the city hosted an Internet Cat Film Festival in 2014, dog people have been alienated. In fact, most Americans identify themselves as “dog people” rather than “cat people,” by a 70% to 20% lead.

The Dog Film Festival is a touring festival taking place at various theatres across the country. At each stop, a local shelter or rescue will share in the proceeds of ticket sales.

Tracie Hotchner, the festival’s organizer, host of NPR’s “Dog Chat,” and author of “The Dog Bible,” tried to narrow down the festival’s selections with the help of her two Weimaraners, but they were of no help. She says that the dogs thought watching movies was boring and that they’d rather play outside.

The 23 films that made the cut are dedications to the relationship between dogs and humans, and are appropriate for all audiences. (No dogs die at the end, so don’t worry.)

Some festival highlights include a remastered version of “The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold,” a 30-minute film by William Wegman, the famed dog photographer, whose subjects were his own Weimaraners. Another submission was titled “Game of Bones,” and starred Helen, a black lab from Australia.

Unfortunately, dogs were not allowed inside the theatre during the film screenings.

“Dogs get busy and talk back to the screen,” said Hotchner.

But if her dogs’ interests are any indication of canine community opinion, the dogs probably weren’t offended.

The festival was dedicated to the late comedian and television host, Joan Rivers, who happened to be Hotchner’s god mother. Rivers lived alone with her dogs as her life companions. She was one of Hotchner’s biggest role models and helped foster her love and advocacy for dogs everywhere.

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