Review by Bec Fleming
Dogs of Democracy Dir: Mary Zournazi | Australia, Greece
Dogs of Democracy, written and directed by Mary Zournazi explores the challenges facing democracy in Greece through the eyes of the stray dogs of Athens and the people who care for them.
There is much to lure dog lovers to this film. Adorable dogs stretch in the sun on the pavement, sidle up to restaurant patrons seeking a snack or a pat: they even stop traffic. But these stray dogs are much more than they seem. In Greece they have become a symbol of hope and compassion.
One would expect a film documenting the crisis in Athens to include stories from the people involved in the protests and academics reflecting on the issues. These stories are included but by telling them through the lens of the dogs of Athens Zournazi creates a greater level of empathy.
The story of Loukanikos, a key narrative thread of the story, was from my perspective the strongest element of the film. Loukanikos was perhaps the most famous of the stray dogs in Greece, a hero of the protest movement. Through interviews with people who knew and cared for Loukanikos the audience comes to feel a strong sense of affection for him.
In the second half of the film we travel to the island of Lesvos and learn something of the despair of the migrant crisis. The film shows us the commonality between migrants, the Greek people suffering under economic pressure and the dogs – all are vulnerable. The film explores kindness to those who are suffering. The welcoming of the ‘other’ as friend. It is this kind of democracy, the democracy of hope, which is represented in the care shown to the dogs.
Dogs of Democracy screens Sunday, October 22nd at Palace Electric Cinema. Tickets Available Here