Lek and the Dogs (Andrew Kotting, 2017)

By Alonso Castro

Andrew Kotting’s Lek and the Dogs is rework on Hattie Naylor’s book Ivan and the dogs. The plot narrates the life of Ivan Mishukov’s as a child, when he abandons his home to live in the streets of Moscow, and starts coexisting with a group of street dogs. It’s a history based in real events.

However, the film goes beyond a linear representation of Ivan’s history, who in the film is renamed as Lek. Kotting narrates a story using elements of found footage and audiovisual archives that reflect from quotidian scenes of families to the registry of explosions and nuclear plants. With these resources, the filmmaker creates atmospheres that contribute to the reconstruction of several moments in Lek’s life. Thus, the moments which reference the events in Lek’s life in the streets and with the dogs outside the city are reflected, and also the events in his family period as he attempts to reinsert himself into society. This is perfectly complemented with the images of Lek’s environment as he grows, a context where abuse and self-destruction is predominant, to the point of reaching a dystopic point of chaos and decadence.

In Lek and the Dogs, Kotting poses an exercise of comprehension on the construction of memory and the subjects who live in societies that demand an excessive individualism, through the representation of a character –as peculiar as it is complex- that run away from society to then reinsert himself and finally moving away entirely from the social environment, looking for a community that can house him and not destroy him.

13, a Ludorama About Walter Benjamin (Carlos Ferrand, 2017)

Inside the Artists and auteurs section, Carlos Ferrand’s 13, a Ludorama About Walter Benjamin was exhibited. A film in 13 chapters, it documents the life of German philosopher Walter Benjamin during his exile in France, from 1933 to 1940.

Ferrand’s film not only talks about some episodes of Benjamin’s life during his exile in Paris, it also approximates us in a suggestive, concise and introductory manner, to some lines of thought of the philosopher: his reflections about the bond of history and violence, of the reproduction and reproducibility of art in the early 1900’s, the quotidian life in the city (with emphasis in the existence of galleries or commercial streets in Paris), among other topics.

However, the film is not only a documentary which tells some facts on Bejamin’s life, but it lucidly nears us to his internal conflicts and reflections on the capitalist modernity of the pre-World War II period. Through the use of archival documents and photographies of the philosopher and other characters, found footage and animations, the film revives temporary passages of the last years of the German philosopher and also of the European context before the war exploded. Thus, not only historical passages of Europe and Benjamin’s life is reproduced; but also, through some ideas of the philosopher, (sorted arbitrarily), Ferrand poses some reflections on capitalism and its self-destructive character (based on the lecture of the German author on the Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, for example), and the potential of arts under the mechanical reproduction to emancipate humanity.

Lek and the Dogs

Director: Andrew Kötting
United Kingdom, France, Chile
90 min

13, a Ludodrama About Walter Benjamin

Director: Carlos Ferrand
78 min