This week, the very first showing of the Bow Wow Film Festival will take place in Breckenridge. Dog lovers of all ages will have a chance to view several short dog-centric films while supporting two local animal-focused nonprofits. Animal Rescue of the Rockies and the League of Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS) will benefit from the ticket proceeds.
The BowWow Film Festival is the brainchild of Susan Kelley, a Boulder resident with a soft spot for man’s best friend. While volunteering at a local animal rescue, Kelley started thinking about other ways to help.
“I had lived in Telluride for quite a few years, and there’s a great film-festival culture,” she said.
After connecting with the people behind the Fly-Fishing Film Tour, a production company that puts together festivals about fishing, she created the BowWow Film Festival. Submissions were solicited and came in from friends and friends of friends.
“Once we connected with people and once they understood the idea and the motivation behind the idea — just giving rescues a whole other way to raise money and awareness — the filmmakers were absolutely into it,” she said. “We had so much support and so much encouragement from them. I think they’re really excited to have this venue, this opportunity to get their pieces out into an audience that’s just going to lap it up.”
The mission of the film festival is two-fold, she said. Firstly, it’s to support rescues and animal-related organizations. The festival itself gets funds from sponsors, while tickets from each event go toward local organizations in the community.
“Unconditional” is one of the films that will be showing at the BowWow Film Festival in Breckenridge on Thursday. The festival features short films about dogs and proceeds benefit LAPS and Animal Rescue of the Rockies.
The second part is simply enjoying and showcasing dogs.
“When you have a conversation with a person about their dog, they completely light up,” Kelley said. “I think that it’s just such a wonderful universal connection that there should be a way to celebrate that.”
Karen Martiny, with Animal Rescue of the Rockies, said she was intrigued when she received an email from Kelley suggesting having the festival in Breckenridge.
“I think it will be perfect for Summit County since there are probably more dogs up here than people,” Martiny said with a laugh.
Animal Rescue of the Rockies has been around since 2003. The organization pulls cats and dogs from shelters to save them from being euthanized and places them with foster families until they can be adopted.
Martiny then contacted LAPS to see if they were interested in partnering. LAPS provides a number of programs, including a spay/neuter program at the Summit County Animal Shelter. LAPS also offers a medical-assistance fund to Summit County locals whose pets have run up large veterinary bills, usually for an emergency.
Broken Compass Brewing will be donating beers to the event, and a cash bar, available in the lobby during the intermission, will donate its proceeds to both groups, as well.
“So all the proceeds will go to help save lives,” Martiny said.
The festival will last about 85 minutes, with two 40-minute sessions broken up by a five-minute intermission. All of the films are short, with none going over 20 minutes. They range in topics from a Jack Russell terrier that joins in on mountain biking trips, to the film “Denali,” a photographer’s tribute to the dog who helped him through his cancer treatments, to a mockumentary on pugs.
“Everything on the screen is going to be totally appropriate for kids,” Kelley said.
After Breckenridge, the Bow Wow Film Festival will travel around Colorado, to places such as Longmont, Glenwood Springs and Durango, and then head over the border to Texas, California and Minnesota.
When asked who should come to the festival, Martiny replied, “Pretty much everyone. Whether you’re a dog lover or if you already have pets or are thinking of getting a pet — it’s good for families, it’s going to be a family-friendly event — anybody who just enjoys dogs.”
“Lily Shreds” is one film that will be showing at the BowWow Film Festival in Breckenridge on Thursday.