Neither Barbie nor Oppenheimer The film fan phenomenon in 2023

Neither “Barbie” nor “Oppenheimer”: The film fan phenomenon in 2023 was the furore surrounding acting dogs

Some ideas tweeted about Anything other than giving it to the dog from “Anatomy of a Fall” seems like speciesist manipulation to me.”; “Well, I just watched Anatomy of a Fall and half a Palme d'Or belongs to the dog“, either “Goal at the interpretive level: act as a sniffer in “Anatomy of a Fall”.“ – would summarize the fascination that the dog has aroused in the digital space with a decisive intervention in the plot of the recent winner of the Cannes Festival. The fan phenomenon with this blue-eyed border collie even extends to Letterboxd, the platform where users comment and vote on films. There, the review of the film with the most votes is that of the actress Ayo Edebiri (The Bear, Bottoms, Theater Camp), where more than 10,000 users support her particular reading of the film by Justine Triet: “Well, I just have the best performance of “I saw my life and it wasn’t from Sandra Hülser or a child actor with the most beautiful pony I’ve ever seen, it was from a dog.”

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If 2022 was the year of donkeys as revelatory characters in films like Suro, Eo or Inisherin's Banshee, 2023 was the year in which the dog capitalized on the screen and stole the hearts of viewers. The dog hype has not only reached Snoop, whose real name is Messi and who won the Palm Dog Award as the best acting dog of the year, an award that has been presented in parallel during the Cannes Festival since 2001 and to which other editions also went to the poodle War Pony (2022) or Brad Pitt's Pitbull in Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (2019).

Kaurismäki's mascot

There is Chaplin, the dog from Aki Kaurismäki's Fallen Leaves, who is actually called Alma and is the director's pet in real life. A dog who in the film is saved from possible euthanasia by the worker Ansa (Alma Pöysti), just at the moment when it seems that her relationship with the alcoholic Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) might end. Or Lola, the charming mestizo from “The Old Oak” by Ken Loach, who played Marra, the pet of TJ, the owner of the pub and central to the story in the Brit's last film. Or the special mention of the two elegant hounds from Todd Haynes' “Secrets of a Scandal,” which of course has nothing to do with the drama's most viral phrase about the shortage of hot dogs.

“Messi” (“Snoop”), at a time during the filming of “Anatomy of a Fall.”“Messi” (“Snoop”), at a time during the filming of “Anatomy of a Fall.” Elastica Films

On the Croisette, dogs starred in the festival's most talked-about films. Jonathan Glazer recruited the black Weimaraner to play Dilla in “Hot Spot,” whose off-camera owner was the drama's co-star Sandra Hülser (who, out of respect for her privacy, has never revealed her dog's real name in interviews ). Hülser followed the path of Patricia Clarkson, who included her sick dog in real life in the plot of Monica (2022) and died immediately after filming.

Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Chaplin (Alma), in a picture from “Fallen Leaves”.Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Chaplin (Alma), in a picture from “Fallen Leaves”. Avalon

Kaurismäki's dog was not the only lifesaver for a film protagonist of 2023. In Spanish cinema, in addition to the dog with a hat in Close Your Eyes by Víctor Erice, another dog turned into a spiritual talisman and an extension of the emotional state of its owner It was Flor , the intersex dog (she has both reproductive systems, but are incomplete) who played Sieso in Un amor, Isabel Coixet's adaptation of Sara Mesa's novel. In both the film and the novel, in this fiction Nat (Laia Acosta) takes in a shy and hermaphrodite dog who has socialization problems due to a past full of abuse and whose emotional development will be crucial for the protagonist's coexistence in the city it was installed.

Flor (Sieso) is an intersex dog who was rescued from a container.  “Un amor” was her first film.Flor (Sieso) is an intersex dog who was rescued from a container. “Un amor” was her first film.Un amor

“Flor is an example of how you can do good work with a kennel dog and build a good bond. “If Un amor has proven anything, it is that if you give them trust, animals from shelters also serve for interpretation,” claims Gabriel Cardona, the trainer who has been with Animales a Rodar, the dedicated company, for more than two decades , collaborates on animal training for audiovisual filming and who took over the recording of one of the performance's unveiling dogs in 2023.

Flor's story is not the typical tale of an animal accustomed to the spotlight like other professional acting dogs Cardona has worked with throughout his career. Her owner Claudia found her lying in a container with her sister when she was just two months old, with signs of abuse and injuries on her face and with bowlegs. Since then he has lived in Cubelles (Barcelona) and this was the first film he took part in.

Nat (Laia Costa) and Sieso (Flor) in “Un amor”.Nat (Laia Costa) and Sieso (Flor), in “Un amor”.Un amor

“When I met her I realized she had behavioral issues due to her past, so we spent some time together beforehand. The filming went very well, she is a very sweet dog and she adapted very well to the entire team. The easiest thing was to shoot the most intimate scenes in the house with Laia. Since she was a bit shy, the challenge for her was to be outside in case she ran away when she heard a noise. “But Flor started filming without being able to free herself and she finished filming while running, everything went great,” explains this trainer, who still visits her from time to time and defends her acting skills, although she is not as good professional as others. Star dogs of Spanish cinema like Lisa (Chino Darín's dog in Cesc Gay's film Stories to Tell, which he also trained). When asked if the Film Academy (or whatever organization) dares to give him the award for the Dog of the Year award, as the channels claim, he has no doubts: “Of course Flor deserves it, and more much more.”

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