Last night we welcomed the first Dog Film Festival at the Seattle International Film Festival’s Uptown theatre. Hundreds of humans and their canine companions attended the two shows that celebrated the remarkable bond between dogs and their people.
Cole and Nathan Eckerman attended with their three dogs: Rue, a Chihuahua rescued from a kill shelter in California; Winchester a hound mix and local part-time model; and Lagertha, a three-month old Mastiff named who spent the whole 90+ minutes cuddled on Nathan’s lap. Cole Eckerman, who is executive director of COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas), said they liked the idea of taking the dogs to the theatre. “We wanted to support the Humane Society and thought it would be a fun event for the dogs, an adventure, and a way to reward them.”
The Festival started with people and pooches lined up around the SIFF Cinema Uptown building waiting for the doors to open. Some attendees, like me and Nacho, walked the green carpet and posed for a photo. Others were anxious to get popcorn and good seats. Dogs sat on humans, one or two sat on chairs, and a few got comfortable on the floor on dog beds brought from home.
At promptly 4 pm, Tracie Hotchner, pet wellness advocate and creator of the Radio Pet Lady Network, and the festival’s founder, greeted everyone and thanked us for coming. She also thanked the Petco Foundation for being the national Presenting Sponsor of the Festival. Her enthusiasm was contagious and a round of applause greeted the start of the first film, punctuated by a bark or two of the audience.
In between bites of popcorn, our red heeler vacillated between visiting other dogs in our row, sitting on my husband’s lap, and sitting on the floor facing us. He didn’t seem too interested in the films, but he seemed to love the novelty of the experience…and the popcorn.
We saw light-hearted short films, including “The Lewis Lectures” about what dogs are actually thinking, “Beta’ about a woman who thought her dog talked to her, “Dog Years’ in which a dog explains his relationship with his absentee-owner, “Game of Bones”, a dog-themed spoof, “Useful Dog Tricks” in which a Jack Russell showed ways he could help around the house, and William Wegman’s “The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold” starring his famous Weimaraners.
The audience applauded the end of each film and the start of the new, and that was always punctuated by at least one bark. Eckerman said that the festival was everything she had hoped it would be, and if the festival runs again next year, her non-profit would love to have a table to educate movie goers about the need for more off-leash areas in the city.
Hotchner was thrilled with the turnout in Seattle and how “engaged the audience was. We hope to return next year,” she said.
Caroline Golon, of High Paw Media who provided the public relations for the event, said, “We know this is something special, and in each city we visit, something truly inspiring happens to the audience. We’re excited for the rest of the tour!”
The Dog Film Festival has 12 stops on its tour. Seattle was the second city to host the event, which kicked off in Los Angeles on June 5. Half of the net proceeds of the event were donated to Seattle Humane Society. Next stop for the festival is July 17 in Rochester, New York. Cities afterwards include East Hampton, New York; Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Chicago; San Diego; New York City; Sacramento; San Antonio; Santa Fe; and Kansas City. Check the website for exact dates and locations, and to purchase tickets.