Monday, November 24, 2014

In Defense of Rottweilers

Tomorrow night's screening in Berkeley of the documentary Black Beauty Breed is not just a homecoming feather in the cap of first-time feature filmmaker Angie Ruiz. It's also a reminder of the power of Tugg.
If you're not familiar with Tugg, the best way to think of the platform is as a movie-screenings version of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. From the service's website:

1. Fill out the Event Request Form and pick the date, time, and place for your special screening.
2.The theater approves the request, and you can begin selling tickets on your personalized Event Page.
3. Sell enough tickets before the event deadline to confirm your screening. If you don’t meet this "Threshold," no one will be charged and your event will be called off.

For Ruiz, it all started in 2007 when she and her husband adopted a nine-month-old Rottweiler rescue. As they did personal research and became more familiar with the breed's history, she realized that the media portrayal and perception of Rottweilers was likely one-sided.

Building on some previous documentary short work about lions in Africa, Ruiz decided it was material that deserved to be explored. Tomorrow night's Berkeley screening follows a number of previous Tugg screenings, with more scheduled for the future.

Ruiz, who attended nearby North Salinas High School, told Monterey Herald features editor Jeannie Evers that she began the research process with her own dog:

Ruiz discovered in her research that Rottweilers have a history that stretches back to ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, when they would drive livestock and pull carts for bakers, butchers and farmers. In other words, she learned, they were working dogs, not guard dogs.
Ruiz decided to put Samson to the test. She enrolled him in a herding class, where he was thrown in a dirt ring with a bunch of cattle — animals that aren’t exactly familiar to a dog in Los Angeles. He herded the heck out of them. “He surprised me,” she said. “He’s a natural droving dog. I thought, ‘OK this is real, they really do have this natural instinct.'"

Other Rottweilers featured in the 66-minute documentary are a therapy dog helping a teenager in a coma and a police dog used to scour Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

[Tugg: Theatrical FAQ]

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