“Sled Dogs” | #NBFF 2017 Official Selection


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“SLED DOGS” sheds a glaring light on the unknown side of the commercial dog sledding industry, exposing the abuse many of these animals face for the sake of, entertainment and company dollars. Director Fern Levitt creates a deeply investigative narrative as this film covers both sides of the issue. The side of the dog sled companies that say they are not breaking any laws, as well as those who claim that it is nothing more than pure animal abuse.

Now before diving into my thoughts on this documentary I will say I love animals, dogs in particular, as I consider my dog a part of my family. That was something that made this film extremely difficult for me to sit through. Not because it was coming from the opposite side of my beliefs in this matter. But instead, it was because this film uncovered so many horrible truths about the abuse and neglect these dogs face when they are not racing.

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Something that was so intriguing about this documentary was the fact that, regardless of the stance it took on exposing animal abuse. It took the time to capture the other side of the story. Taking a look at the lives of dog sled trainers who actually do love their animals. This film gives them the opportunity to convey their thought process, regardless of whether or not you agree with it. It makes the message in this film so much more impactful because as a viewer, you feel like you get the full story, and not simply one side of it.

One thing in my opinion that makes a great documentary, is being able to see a passion from the filmmakers. That was exactly the case in this one. The time, effort spent in covering this issue from many locations, and interviewing people from both sides of the issue, weave together into an informative and deeply touching narrative that will connect with you regardless of your beliefs on the matter.

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Archival footage of town council meetings, and old news coverage help capture the story of this abuse in a very impactful way. This, added with interviews and opinions from many people involved with, and connected to the issue, give a much deeper layer of insight. Using all of these elements, in addition to covering an already emotional topic, all come together to create a thought-provoking documentary that people need to see. To further expose the truth about how some of these sled dogs are treated behind the scenes.

If you are against the abuse of animals this documentaries coverage of the issue will anger you, and break your heart. The filmmakers take a look at the stables these dogs lived in, the issues they faced in the summer where it was said the stables often looked more like concentration camps. But none of this ever comes off as melodramatic because the filmmakers stick to the facts and let them tell the story. Resulting in an unbiased delivery.

“Sled Dogs” is a film that lets the footage capture the issue and speak solely for itself. There is no forced intention for this film to try and get you to think in a specific way, but to simply expose the facts. It is a beautifully crafted documentary that delivers the material and lets you come to your own conclusion from your own ethical beliefs about how these dogs are treated when the race isn’t going on and it is a must-see.


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