On Friday, September 11, 2020, Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle Theaters will exclusively premiere the new movie Space Dogs, an Icarus Films release. A week later on Friday, Sept. 18, Space Dogs will expand to a wide virtual theatrical release supporting local theaters across North America. In the film, directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter document a pack of Moscow street dogs and trace the story of Laika, the first dog in space.
Among the film’s many accolades were Special Mention at Locarno IFF 2019, Best Austrian Film & ExtraVALUE Film Award at Viennale 2019 and Special Jury Award at FIDOCS 2019, among many international festival screenings at DOK Leipzig 2019, Sevilla IFF 2019, Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2019, RIDM Montréal 2019, Tallinn Black Nights 2019, Torino IFF 2019 and Stranger than Fiction 2019.
Laika, a stray dog, was the first living being to be sent into space and thus to a certain death. According to a legend, she returned to Earth as a ghost and has roamed the streets of Moscow ever since. Following her trace, and filmed from a dog’s perspective, Space Dogs accompanies the adventures of her descendants: two street dogs living in today’s Moscow. Their story is one of intimate fellowship in a menacing world but also a magical tale of voyagers scouting for unknown spaces.
Photographed at ground level with wandering, hypnotic camera movements, the strays are seen navigating the urban environs of modern Moscow. In hewing closely to the dog’s point of view, the city is rendered as a strange, alien environment. Pulsating music from buildings and unidentified passerby take on an unfamiliar quality as the dogs explore this strange new world.
Archival footage of the Soviet space program is interwoven throughout the film, reveling in the bizarre tests and procedures the canines were subjected to in preparation for space travel. The hum of space-age machinery blends seamlessly with the hypnotic drone of the soundtrack, which in turn echoes the alien sounds of the modern city. With stunning cinematography and meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, Space Dogs is a singular work that de-centers humans in order to uncover a forgotten history.
“This film is about the relationship of another species to us humans. A species that has been used in space history in two ways: both as an experimental object and as a symbol of courage and heroism. The dogs had to fulfill mankind‘s dream by conquering the cosmos for them. Their story became a fable, a nascent legend, of a bitterness that we chose to illustrate. Space Dogs is dedicated to these fables and legends, to unknown worlds and to their discoverers,” said directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter.
About the Directors
Elsa Kremser (born 1985 in Wolfsberg, Austria) studied Film at the University of Vienna and the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg. Her diploma film “Nebel” premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. “Space Dogs” is her documentary directorial debut.
Levin Peter (born 1985 in Jena, Germany) studied at the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg. He has made films including “A Promise” (70’, 2012) and “Prestes Maia” (52’, 2008). His diploma film, the documentary “Beyond the Snowstorm” (92’, 2016) won the German Upcoming Film Award and was presented at the Berlinale.
In 2016, Kremser and Peter co-founded the Vienna-based production company RAUMZEITFILM. As a directing duo, they are currently working on their first fiction feature, “The Green Parrot,” which received the Berlinale Kompagnon Script Award.