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Space Dogs

A film by Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter

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Laika, a stray dog picked up by the Soviet space program on the streets of Moscow, became the first living being to orbit the earth when she was launched into space on Sputnik 2. Although Laika would not survive the journey, directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter trace the persistence of her memory and legacy into the present day. As the capsule containing Laika re-entered Earth’s orbit and began to burn up, the narrator announces “What had been a Moscow street dog had become a ghost.”

The ghost Laika lives on in the present-day strays of SPACE DOGS. 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.

“Brutal but also deeply sensitive; a complex work that got under my skin.” —Film Comment

“No one leaves this movie unchanged.” —Publico

“Radical and rigorous; one of the documentaries of the year.” —Film Idea

“Like Disney directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.” —CineVue

“Undoubtedly the most exciting film at Locarno: a philosophical film that does what cinema has to do: show unseen images.” —Deutchland Funk

“Successfully subverts the anthropocentric gaze to Illustrate the violent way humans inhabit space." —Little White Lies

“A total work of art, foreshadowing a near future in which man is no longer the center of the world.” —Kino Zeit

“Ingenious; Kremser and Peter connect a roughly hewn space traveling animal history with modern stray subjects.” —IonCinema

“The scariest film of the year.” —CineEuropa

Best Austrian Film, Viennale 2019
Extra Value Film Award, Viennale 2019
Jury Award, FIDOCS Documentary Festival 2019
Special Mention, Locarno Film Festival 2019
Best Cinematography, DIAGONALE’20 2019
Reykjavik International Film Festival 2019
Cinefest Miskolc Film Festival 2019
Riga International Film Festival 2019
Sao Paolo Film Festival 2019
Sevilla International Film Festival 2019
Mar del Plata Film Festival 2019
Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2019
Tallinn Black Nights Festival 2019
Torino International Film Festival 2019
DOK Leipzig Documentary Festival 2019
Artdocfest Moscow Film Festival 2019
RIDM Montreal Documentary Film Festival 2019

91 minutes / Color
Russian / English subtitles
Release: 2020
Copyright: 2019

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

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Subject areas:
Anthropology, Environment, History, Science, Sociology, Russia

Watch the trailer:


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