Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Last Dogs of Winter

A good documentary takes you someplace else, introduces you to someone new or gives you something new to think about after you've had your attention occupied for ninety minutes or so. The last dogs of winter does all three. It was made by Wellingtonian Costa Botes who has done a variety of good stuff, including short film I'm quite fond of, Stalin's Sickle.

The someplace else in this film is Churchill, Manitoba which is famous for being the Polar Bear Capital of the World. I'd like to go Polar Bear spotting one day, so this is one reason why I went. The someone(s) new are Qimmiq (Eskimo Dogs) about which I knew nothing at all,  and about the man (Brian Ladoon) who, almost single-handedly, has brought the species back from the edge of extinction. He's aided in the quest by a New Zealander, Caleb Ross,  who brought Brian and the dogs to Costa Botes' attention and caused the film to be made.

The new stuff to think about is the logistics and the politics of bringing a domesticated species back from extinction when the species really has to live outside but has to be managed by people and can't be left to run free. Tricky stuff. You get plenty of opinion on the matter from the people interviewed in the film. You also get great footage of both dogs and bears who both have oodles of furry animal charm, and a landscape that couldn't be more different from Wellington.

My rating: 4/5.

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