When it comes to some of the most pressing social, environmental, and animal rights causes in our world, filmmaking has proven, time and time again, to be one of the most effective tools that we can use to raise awareness of those issues. Enormously successful documentaries such as Blackfish, Cowspiracy, and What the Health have demonstrated that a single film with a powerful message can capture the interest of people all over the world and help stimulate conversations on how to resolve the problems that we face. So what happens when an entire series of films is shown in cities and towns throughout the U.S., with the aim of raising money and awareness for dog rescue groups? The amazing Bow Wow Film Festival is on a mission to find out.
Bow Wow Film Festival was founded in 2014 by Susan Kelley. In an interview with One Green Planet, Susan explained she was inspired to establish the festival after witnessing the hard work and dedication of a rescue group in her area a few years ago. She felt that their work — as well as the work of many other rescue organizations and animal welfare groups around the country — deserved to be publicized on a wider platform.
“I knew what wonderful community events these film festivals could be,” she explained, “and thought that bringing dog lovers together all while supporting the important community services that these animal welfare groups provide would be win-win!”
“Our movies change every year, so organizations can use it as an annual fundraising event,” Susan said. “In our first three years of touring, we have raised over $135,000 for our hosting organizations. We make it very easy for our organizations to host an event. We send them the movies and some fun giveaways, but we also support them with a nicely-designed marketing package that includes tips to help them market the event.”
Bow Wow prides itself on offering a wide variety of fun, heartfelt, and adventurous movies. All of the movies aim to create a joyful, inspiring event and foster an appreciation of the incredible bond that we humans share with our canine friends, and they inspire audiences to do whatever they can to help them.
The movies often have a profound impact on those who see them. One person who attended a screening in California told Susan, “I am an older lady who has always been a bit afraid of dogs. Maybe more than a bit, actually. Last night I went with a friend and her dog to the Bow Wow Film Festival in San Anselmo, California, and … I was completely and utterly blown away! I was totally focused on every film. I cried and laughed and wept uncontrollably and cheered and when the last one — Sun Dog — had finished, I felt transformed. It was a completely unexpected and absolutely life-changing experience. I know that sounds very dramatic, but it is true.”
Susan credits the filmmakers with these remarkable transformations. “The filmmakers create beautiful and delightful films, tell wonderful stories and then share their hard work with us,” she said. “We could not hold this festival without their talents, generosity, and passion.” The appreciation is mutual, as Lauren Mayhew, creator of the marvelous animated piece Laika & Rover explains: “I think sharing your work is always really important for filmmakers. It encourages me to continue to create when people go and see my work and respond so positively.”
This year’s program includes Akita, Elvis, the Lonely Hunter of Circle Beach, and Ask Frank – Advice for a Dog, by a Dog.
Animal welfare groups that have benefited from their association with Bow Wow Film Festival over the years include Colorado Pet Pantry, San Francisco Aid For Animals, Second Chance Humane in Western Colorado, Pete’s Pet Posse, Oklahoma State University’s Pet Therapy Program, and Oregon Humane Society. Amanda Williams of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley comments, “It is an honor to have such a great organization partner with us and generate awareness for our cause. We have had a wonderful time working with the BWFF team and consider ourselves truly lucky to be the beneficiary of this inspiring event’s success!”
Ultimately, Bow Wow Film Festival is all about celebrating the positive, life-affirming impact that our canine friends have had on our lives. “The bond humans have with dogs is a universal connection, spanning demographics, race, and socio-economic status,” Susan states. “Dogs are wonderful creatures who make us laugh and play and warm our hearts, and I think it is very gratifying to share that universal experience.” We couldn’t agree more.
You can also check out the official trailer for Bow Wow’s 2017/2018 season here, featuring the stars of the show themselves — the dogs!
For more information about Bow Wow Film Festival, check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. Their upcoming tour schedule can be viewed here. To learn more about how you can host a Bow Wow screening for your local animal rescue organization, click here. And if you are a filmmaker interested in submitting a dog-themed movie, you can find out how to apply here.
Image Source: Bow Wow Film Festival