Dogs of Democracy
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Engaging and thought-provoking.
In her first venture into film, author Mary Zournazi is open about having stumbled quite fortuitously onto the topic of her documentary. Originally intended to be an exploration of her own Greek roots in Athens, Zournazi soon uncovers a microcosm of stray dogs who roam the streets freely, whilst being cared for by many of the locals. Like Ceyda Torun’s Kedi – which looked at the large populace of homeless cats that prowl through Istanbul – we meet both humans and canines, witnessing the love they share for each other.
Extending beyond merely trying to make its audience feel warm and fuzzy, Zournazi tries to understand if there’s a way humanity can learn something from its furry brethren with regards to ethics and morality. This ideology is emboldened by the time and place in which Zournazi finds herself filming; Greece is being crippled by an economic crisis that is causing, amongst other things, mass unemployment. Like the dogs we meet, the people of Athens are cut adrift, facing tough realities. However, as the film progresses we see how these very same people can find moments of hope within their interactions with the dogs, whose resilience effectively rubs off on them.
The hero of the film is perhaps Loukanikos, a stray who appeared at numerous anti-austerity protests being photographed dodging tear gas alongside his human protestors. Loukanikos is set up to be a symbol of the people, from which those who gather around his memorial can extract their own sense of purpose. Zournazi highlights how as a society, if we are able to think of others, even in moments of great stress and foreboding, only then are we more likely to come together and stand strong in the face of disquiet.
Engaging and thought-provoking, go see Dogs of Democracy for the wet nosed mischief makers, but stay for the uplifting philosophical discussion.