Do our dogs really love us? Are they our slaves or are we theirs?
These are just some of the questions raised by award-winning filmmaker Gillian Leahy in her newest documentary, BAXTER AND ME. As searching and thought provoking as a dog’s soulful gaze, the film will easily strike a chord with anyone for whom a furry, four-legged animal is just one more member of the family; albeit a wet-nosed one.
Dogs have been associated with humans for millennia, having moved more 30,000 years ago out of the wild to our villages, then to the kennel and now into the family home and Gill’s idiosyncratic, honest and, indeed, “dogged” examination of her relationships – both canine and human – raises questions about how we relate to the “wild” in dogs as well as to the other (two-legged) animals that inhabit our world.
“My life has always been mediated and mitigated by dogs,” says Gill. “I wanted to see how much I could persuade audiences to empathise with and appreciate dogs without lecturing them or drowning them in facts.”
The idea for the documentary began when Gill woke up one morning and asked herself, “What am I doing living with this big brown beast?” Filmed in Sydney, the story follows Gill and Baxter’s relationship, their ordinary rituals and day-to-day life. It takes the audience to some familiar haunts – the dog park, the beach, the vet – as well as to some unexpected destinations as it follows Gill’s own personal story from her difficult childhood to her days as an activist and her early years in the film industry. Through it all, the audience is introduced to the many remarkable dogs that have been Gill’s companions and confidants along the way, including the one who currently occupies her waking life and her sleeping space: the charming and wilful Baxter – who is available to do media interviews along with his human.
BAXTER AND ME will be released in cinemas across Australia via Demand Film: www.demand.film. Any person or organization can sponsor a film listed on the Demand.film site, create an event around it and then use their own social media network to sell tickets to their friends and online community. Demand.film, in turn, reserves the theatre, manages ticketing and ensures the delivery of the film. Once the ticket threshold is reached, the screening goes ahead and everyone just sits back and enjoys the show.