White God Woofo­lu­tion

SFX - - Red Alert -

Eq­uite the same day as White God’s Ha­gen, who leads the dogs of Bu­dapest in an up­ris­ing against hu­man­ity – a com­ment, direc­tor Kornél Mun­druczó says, on ris­ing in­tol­er­ance in Eastern Europe. “This film is about mi­nor­ity. Not just about dogs as a mi­nor­ity but us­ing them as a metaphor for the way we treat gyp­sies and Jews in Hun­gary. In the last ten years, with the rise of the ex­treme right, Europe has started to for­get and re­peated the same sto­ries some­how. This film is re­peat­ing some­thing that hap­pened al­ready but in a dif­fer­ent form. It’s very danger­ous to for­get our his­tory.”

Ha­gen, played by ca­nine twins Luke and Body, gets sep­a­rated from his 14- year- old owner Lili ( Zsó­fia Psotta) af­ter her dog- hat­ing fa­ther throws him out. It is a film of “many gen­res” ac­cord­ing to Mun­druczó, but is di­vided into two sec­tions. The first is that of Ha­gen’s harsh time on the streets, where he and other hun­gry stray dogs are pur­sued by catch­ers, be­fore Ha­gen him­self is forced into the cruel world of dog fight­ing – a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence that ends up twist­ing his sweet na­ture.

All of which, of course, is de­liv­ered with kitchen- sink rev­er­ence. But that’s be­fore Ha­gen, pushed to the brink by hu­man­ity, ig­nites a dog pound into a full- on pulp- hor­ror revo­lu­tion – com­plete with paw prints of blood and “he’s be­hind you!” scares. It’s a chaotic se­quence that, Mun­duczó says, was in­spired by child­hood favourite Juras­sic Park and Al­fred Hitch­cock’s The Birds.

To visu­alise such a revo­lu­tion, how­ever, Mun­druczó had to di­rect with a record- break­ing 254 dogs through­out White God – all of which won it the al­ter­na­tive “Palm Dog Prize” at Cannes last year.

“It re­quired a lot of pa­tience,” he laughs. “We shot 55 days but I think 40 of those were just with the dogs. Like, there was one shot where all the dogs are meant to be break­ing out of a dog pound and it was per­fect but then there was just this one dog who de­cided to stay back. There was a lot of that. I think we have 250 hours of ma­te­rial for a two- hour film!”

Di­rect­ing kids: eas­ier than di­rect­ing dogs.

A girl and her dog.

Our money’s on num­ber six.

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