Dog Film Festival — Pooch Party Premiere and Screenings

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Dog film festival in seats

Haute dog! My three favorite things: Dogs, movies and my husband (not necessarily in that order) all came together at once over the weekend, in the first-ever LA Dog Film Festival and Pooch Party premiere, hosted at the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital. Hollywood Hound Frankie Feldman was thrilled, and in fine form.

frankie and friend at pooch partyThe event kicked off with an afternoon tea Pooch Party premiere, where Frankie and dozens of other dogs strutted their stuff on the green carpet, while their human counterparts ate dainty delectables.

This wasn’t your typical Hollywood happening — it was a party with a purpose — the Petco Foundation, a major sponsor of the festival that is set to travel nationwide, furthered their “Think Adoption First” platform by collaborating with the Lange Foundation for on-site dog adoptions. I was oh-so tempted to take home a four-footed friend for Frankie Feldman.

Tracie and Melissa pooch partyThe Dog Film Festival’s honorary hostess was Melissa Rivers, who I later found out is the goddaughter of festival founder Tracie Hotchner of the Radio Pet Lady Network™. Rivers spoke of how her mother’s dogs were smuggled into the hospital to comfort the beloved comedienne in her last hours. Was that a tear or two I saw actress Andie Macdowell dabbing? I know I was verklempt.

Melissa rivers Frankie Feldman at dog film festival pooch party

Melissa Rivers takes a paws to greet Frankie Feldman and me at the Pooch Party Premiere

Spirits were again lifted when dogs and owners beheld the glorious contents of the deluxe “sWag bags,” filled with over $300 in canine goodies including Halo food and treats, a training treat bag from “Why Does My Dog,”  over $250 in Petco coupons, and I’ve already gone through about $100 worth of them–ROCK! Thank you Petco Foundation!  Also included were incredible Outward Hound Invincibles toys, which Frankie Feldman has yet to chew up, and that’s really something considering he usually dispatches with new toys in about seven minutes.  In addition, the sWag bags contained a stylish dog bandana, an embroidered “WOOF” baseball cap from VCA Hospitals and a copy of  the new book “The Rescue Dog Bucket List.” Then there was the canned food from Weruva, which looked and smelled so delicious I was tempted to serve it to Jim for dinner.

Kaya and friends at pooch party

Kaya Rose Davis of ‘Vanished’ and Zachary Haven of ‘Life is Sweet’ enjoy a trio of Aussies at the Pooch Party premiere.

But that was just on Day One. On Day Two, at the historic Crest Westwood Theater where my husband’s men’s breakfast group faithfully meets each Saturday morning,  there were two film programs consisting of completely different curated groups of narrative, animated and documentary short films from around the world, all illuminating the remarkable bond between people and dogs.

The two unique programs ran approximately 1 ½ hours each and combined a medley of shorts into one continuous film for a shared experience of joy, amazement and amusement. And the best part? WE COULD BRING OUR DOGS TO THOSE TOO! Now I know how grateful young mothers are when theaters have specific Mommy screenings, where they can bring their babies and no one minds a little barking — er– crying.

Cameron Davis and Frankie at Pooch Party

Little Miss California Cameron Davis greets Frankie Feldman, her latest devoted subject.

Now, for those of  you who don’t live in Los Angles, I have great news — the Dog Film Festival is traveling nationwide, and could soon be coming to a theater near you. Let me tell you, it is SO worth the drive if you live within a few hours of any of these major cities. Please go, and be sure to send me pictures. I’ll post them here. Here’s the Dog Film Festival schedule:

Dog Film Festival — SEATTLE

Sunday June 26th

Dog Film Festival – ROCHESTER, NY

Sunday July 17th

Dog Film Festival — EAST HAMPTON

Sunday July 31st

Dog Film Festival — GREAT BARRINGTON, MA

Sunday August 14th 

Dog Film Festival CHICAGO

Sunday September 11th 

Dog Film Festival — SAN DIEGO

Sunday September 25th 

Dog Film Festival — NEW YORK CITY

October 15th 2016

Dog Film Festival — SACRAMENTO

Sunday October 30th at 3:00 PM & 5:30 PM

Dog Film Festival–Santa Fe

March 5th 2017

Dog Film Festival — SAN ANTONIO

Sunday November 13th at 5:00 PM & 7:30 PM


Dog Film Festival — KANSAS CITY

April 2nd 2017


dog film festival two costumes



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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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