Traverse City Film Festival Offers Up Some Dog Movies

The Traverse City Film Festival 2016 starts on Tuesday, July 26 and this year’s offerings have some movies that will interest pet lovers in our area!

photo credit: championsdocumentary.com

photo credit: championsdocumentary.com

The Champions
Saturday, July 30th at 3 pm
Sunday, July 31st at 9 am

In 2007, Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick was convicted of running a vicious and illegal dogfighting ring. After serving jail time, Vick was able to return home to lucrative endorsements and a continued NFL career—but whatever happened to the 50+ deadly pit bulls he left behind? “The Champions” tells the amazing, little-known story of the people who stepped in to try and spare the abused canines from almost certain death. Determined to give the surviving dogs a chance at a happy life, this group of animal lovers risked everything to prove that even the most “dangerous” of dogs could live in harmony with humans, and surprised themselves by being transformed through the process. This heartfelt story about four-legged stars who were bred for violence, and then were offered a second chance through love, is glorious proof that you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks. In Person: Director Darcy Dennett; Subjects Francis Battista, Paul and Melissa Fiaccone, and Rescue Dog Cherry! You can read more about the documentary here.

You can buy tickets to this film here.

photo credit: oddballthemovie.com.au

photo credit: oddballthemovie.com.au

Oddball
Saturday, July 30th at 9:30 am

Oddball is an adorable sheepdog who just will not listen. He’s supposed to protect Farmer Swampy Marsh’s chickens from prowling foxes, but instead, his main pastime is tearing through town and knocking things over—he’s number one on the Warrnambool dogcatcher’s most wanted list. But when the oceanside town is threatened by potential closure of the penguin sanctuary that financially supports most of the town’s inhabitants, including Farmer Marsh’s daughter, Oddball becomes an unexpected hero. Turns out, Oddball does have a knack for protecting flightless birds, so long as they’re black and white. Grab the whole family and treat them to one of the sweetest, cutest films you ever will see, complete with an environmental message and (spoiler alert) a very happy ending. And the best part? It’s a true story! In Person: Producer Sheila Hanahan Taylor. Click here for more about the movie.

You can buy tickets to this film here.

photo credit: Laurie Anderson FB page

photo credit: Laurie Anderson FB page

Heart of a Dog
Wednesday, July 27th at 9 am
Thursday, July 28th at 9 pm
Friday, July 29th at 12 noon
Saturday, July 30th at 9 am
Saturday, July 30th at 6 pm
Sunday, July 31st at 3 pm

Love, loss, and the powerful bond between humans and dogs are at the heart of Laurie Anderson’s spellbinding autobiographical documentary. Inventively moving between surreal animation, ethereal footage, and abstract imagery, “Heart of a Dog” is a home movie of sorts—if home movies were crafted of songs, dreams, and memories. Anderson’s masterful storytelling skills are exquisitely deployed as she contemplates life in post-9/11 New York and the deaths of her beloved piano-playing rat terrier Lolabelle, the mother who showed her love only once in her life, and her late husband Lou Reed, who surfaces fleetingly, like a ghost. Featuring music composed by both Anderson and Reed, this impressionistic meditation on love, memory, language, and loss is lyrically and wholly human. Click here for more about the movie.

You can buy tickets to this film here.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Saturday, July 30th at 12 noon
Sunday, July 31st at 9 pm

Kiwi accents make everything better, and that’s never been more true than it is here. Troubled 13-year-old orphan Ricky is up against his last chance—no longer welcome with any other foster parents in the system, he’s dropped off in the middle of nowhere with gruff mountain man Hector (Sam Neill, “Jurassic Park”) and his wife. Fortunately for Ricky, Hector’s better half is lovely. She gives him love and a dog, and soon he doesn’t even want to run away. But when sudden tragedy takes his loving foster mom out of the picture and authorities are alerted about Hector’s past, Hector is forced to flee into the bush— and, unknown and very much against Hector’s wishes, Ricky follows. Hector and Ricky navigate their prickly bond, survive off the land, evade authorities, and eventually find redemption in each other. Brimming with clever visual gags, witty dialogue, spectacular scenery, and a cute dog, this is the funniest, most pleasing family adventure you’ll ever see about child welfare services. Click here for more on the movie.

You can buy tickets to this film here.

photo credit: Unlocking the Cage FB page

photo credit: Unlocking the Cage FB page

Unlocking the Cage (animal rights movie)
Saturday, July 30th at 9 pm
Sunday, July 31st at 3 pm

Should animals have the same legal rights that people do? Even if you go in to “Unlocking the Cage” thinking this is a cuckoo concept, you’ll be surprised by your answer at the end of this deeply provocative film. Attorney and animal rights activist Steven Wise has dedicated his career to pursuing legal “personhood” status (a distinction we’ve already bestowed on corporations) for certain intelligent animals, including chimpanzees and whales. His goal is not for the animals to be categorized as human, but rather to have their rights protected under the law. This fascinating concept is made potently persuasive as Wise exhibits evidence of high animal IQs, acute awareness of surroundings, and suffering caused by deplorable conditions in amusement parks and labs. Legendary Oscar-nominated filmmakers and TCFF honorees D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus have created an enthralling, thought-provoking film, as riveting as a great courtroom drama, that just might forever change the way you view animals and their rights. In Person: Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. Click here for more on the movie.

You can buy tickets to this film here.

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