I Attended a Dog Film Festival with My Dog, And You Can, Too

Picture a movie theater filled with dozens of popcorn-eating dogs.
Publish date:
July 23, 2016
husband, dog, film festivals

A dog film festival. When I first read the words in my email inbox, I had no idea if it was a festival devoted to dog films or if dogs were the proposed audience members. Whichever it was, I was intrigued, and quickly bought tickets when I realized that Nacho, our red heeler Australian Cattle Dog, had been invited to the movies.

A few Sunday afternoons ago, my husband, Rick, Nacho, and I navigated Pride Parade traffic and drove into Seattle to the Seattle International Film Festival's Uptown Theater, where people and pooches were lined up around the building, waiting for the doors to open. Nacho and I walked the green carpet and posed for a photo, and then he received a swag bag of organic dog treats; discounts on grooming, walking, and petting sitting services; and plenty of printed materials about all things canine.

The theater was crowded. Dogs sat on humans, one or two sat on chairs, and a few got comfortable on the floor on dog beds brought from their respective homes. Rick went to the concession stand to buy popcorn (Nacho's favorite movie food) and wine (none for Nacho). He missed the opening remarks when promptly at 4 p.m., Joan Rivers' goddaughter Tracie Hotchner, a 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, Nacho 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, though unlike at home during streaming movies, we couldn't throw the popcorn into the air for him to catch. He graciously accepted it piece by piece from our hands, though,

We saw lighthearted 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. (This last film, 30 minutes in length, was actually our least favorite.)

The audience applauded the end of each film and the start of the new, and that was met with at least one bark. At the end of the festival, I talked the couple next to us who had three dogs with them about their experience, but our comments were brief as we were ushered out by staff so they could prepare for the second set of films to be shown that day.

Rick and I drove to a sushi restaurant with Nacho, who drank an entire bowl of water in one go to wash down all the popcorn and then he went to sleep on their patio while we ate supper. Rick admitted the dog film festival had been a lot of fun and better than he expected — and the fact that they served wine made him happy.

Seattle was the second city on the 12-city Dog Film Festival tour. Upcoming cities include Chicago; East Hampton, New York; New York City; Great Barrington, Massachusetts,; Kansas City; Sacramento; San Diego; Santa Fe; and San Antonio. Tickets are still available if you and your dog would like to experience the dog film festival for yourselves.

I, for one, and thrilled we went, and I'm sure Nacho would love to go back again next year.