It’s a tale of two tails, and dog and cat lovers are invited to the moviesBy LISA BROWN
Special to the Union Leader April 11. 2018 12:42PM
If you go...WHAT & WHEN: New York Cat Film Festival at 7 p.m. Friday and the New York Dog Film Festival at 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth
INFO: musichall.org; 436-2400
Whether you love felines or canines you’ll want to set the GPS for The Music Hall’s New York Cat and New York Dog film festivals this weekend.
The festival begins Friday night with more than 13 film clips about cats, including a 4-minute piece about a cat groomer in the city (“Pure Fluff”) and an 8-minute piece about a shy kitty (“Scaredy, the Cat”) who was adopted from the tennis courts of New York City’s Riverside Park.
And there’s more, nearly two hours of purr-fectly adorable and heartwarming stories, including a piece about a man who thinks he’s a cat (“Gus the Cat”).
The same can be said of the NY Dog Festival on Saturday night. The short films include a dog that runs through the Alps with his best friend (“My Trail Dog”), dogs being trained by inmates to be service dogs (“Dogs in the Pen”), and a spunky dog who gets around in a little wheel-chair (“Awesome Living with Andy.”) Expect two hours of smiles.
The films to be screened have been collected from around the world. Tracie Hotchner, founder of the festivals, said she put out a call for films several years ago, and the response was overwhelming.
“I’m looking for something that moves me to laughter to tears or to think twice about something,” says Hotchner. “Someone said Kleenex should be a sponsor” of the festivals.
The shorts run anywhere from two to 20 minutes, and together take viewers on an emotional roller coaster.
“But, people have nothing to fear, nothing bad happens to any of the animals,” Hotchner said
The film festival is not about silly television, trending memes or YouTube videos.
“I am allergic to any kind of animal videos. I find they shame animals, finding it funny when a cat falls off the counter into the goldfish bowl or the dog can’t get through the door because he has a stick in its mouth,” Hotchner said. “I find this shaming and I find that it is degrading and offensive. “
Hotchner calls the filmmakers behind the shorts on this year’s dog and cat lineups “poets.”
“These films were intentionally made with an idea in mind,” she said. “There is a point to the work — an intelligence and intention.”
Hotchner said none of the filmmakers were paid to have their films in the festival nor do they pay to be in it.
“They do it because they passionately care about animals. No fame, no glory, no money,” she said.
While the goal of the festival is to thoroughly entertain, it also raises money for two non-profit groups. Proceeds from Friday’s cat festival will go to Seacoast Area Feline Education and Rescue (SAFER), while proceeds from dog slate will go to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA).
Chris Curtis, film and outreach manager at the Music Hall, said ticket sales have been good, but don’t ask which festival is selling out faster.
“I don’t want anyone to say cats are better than dogs or vice versa,” said Curtis.
For the record, he is a cat person and his wife is a dog person, but he hopes people will come out to both festivals.
“Who knows, maybe we’ll see a little competition. It’s all fun.,” he said.
For Hotchner, the audience really makes the festival magical.
“People who love animals want to come together and share the love, and that is the intension. It’s a unique movie experience to go with like-minded people and laugh and cry and ooh and ahh together. You don’t get many experience like that in our modern world,” she said.