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TIFF 11: Shoes, Dogs and Polar Bears, Oh My! (Beloved, The Last Dogs of Winter)

Is it only Tuesday? Seems like I have been in festival heaven for much longer:-) As usual I always have great plans to keep in touch with you all on this blog, but films and life interrupt. Yep, I have to give in to sleep sometimes when I am loathe to do so, but gotta fuel the body to keep going during these 10 days in September.

Since my last posting, I have seen BELOVED, the Catherine Deneuve film which also stars her daughter, Chiara Mastoianni. Deneuve's character Madeleine was lured into a life of part-time prostitution by a pair of delectable shoes. Madeleine the elder as played by Deneuve is a little selfish, a little bawdy, and very pragmatic; Madeleine the younger is devilishly played by Ludivigne Sagnier. Like her mother, Vera (Deneuve's real life daughter, Chiara) is also very laissez-faire about sex and life, and her love life is just as complicated--neither mother nor daughter have been able to have successful relationships. To paraphrase a few words of one of the songs in this musical, they can live without the man they love, but they can't live without that love. Froth meets French attitudes towards l'amour in this funny and poignant mother-daughter vehicle. This was my first time seeing Chiara in a film and I definitely appreciated her ability to do drama and comedy, just like her mother--and father Marcello Mastroanni.

Saturday September 17, Scotiabank Theatre 2, 9:30pm

Yes, the scenes of dogs playing with polar bears are cute and have the "awwww" factor, but there is so much more to this documentary than this picture tells.
The irony in watching the film is seeing two endangered species playing together, but only one is recognized as being in danger of disappearing. It's equally about the rebel with a cause, Brian Ladoon, an ex-sailor and frontier man (he lives in Churchill, Manitoba) and his determination and passion to save the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Qimmiq. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands these dogs that were part of Inuit culure for centuries, were deliberately culled by the Canadian government in order to stop the nomadic patterns of the Inuit, and coral them in northern towns. Without Landoon, and the priest that got him interested in the dogs, the number of this artic canine, whose ancestor lead explorers to Canada's north, would have be extinct. As it is now, Landoon, with the assistance of Caleb Ross, a young New Zealander, Jeremy, an even younger man of Inuit heritage young and a handful of volunteers, Ladoon's breeding program is keeping the breed's genetic pool alive.

Landoon is an outsider, even in Churchill, where he was born and raised, and where other talk about it being a place full of "characters." The townspeople judge him without really understanding the importance and significance of his work, and Landoon could give a hoot about what people think about him; he just cares about his dogs. And care, he does. From the outside, the chaining of the dogs in his breeding program looks horrific, however, once you realize that these dogs are not like any other canines in terms of their needs and habits, then you will begin to understand the significance of his work. The Last Dogs of Winter received a standing ovation at it's first screening, with director, Costa Botes, Caleb Ross (who suggested the idea of the film), and Brian Landoon, noticeably surprised at the response. They were even unprepared for questions about donations to keep the program going (Brian and his team are in dire need of funds). The Canadian Dog Foundation is the best place to find out more, but start by seeing this informative and delightful documentary. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday September 17, AMC 6, 10:30am

Toronto International Film Festival
Sept. 8-18, 2011
416-599-8433 or 1-800-599-8433


Anonymous said…
I so loved Beloved-Catherine Deneuve always makes me happy. I would love to see the dog film but can't work it in, but I'll make a note of it and hopefully it will be shown somewhere else.

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