Stray - Elizabeth Lo.
Elizabeth Lo. has nailed it with the feature film Stray.
An honest and natural look at how street dogs live in Turkey, filmed over two years Stray is an enlightening observation of three street dogs protected by law in Istanbul.
Dogs are central to my life, as I suspect yours considering you’re reading this. Yet it can be easy after growing up in the West to consider our main role as one to look after them. We can get caught up in needing to keep them safe, provide things to meet their needs and ensure they are locked up safe at home most of the time. If we train them positively and take them out, we are getting it right, right?
But is that really a dog’s life?
The dogs in the film Stray were filmed carrying out their most natural behaviours, meeting, greeting, correcting and chasing. We saw them scavenging, playing and sleeping on roads busy enough to make the most laidback dog lover cringe.
As a canine communication obsessive, I loved being able to read the body language of the free roaming dogs. I appreciated how it taught us gently and kindly, how a dog would spend their day given the choice. The dog related questions raised for me were ethical and sometimes very sad. For example, the pet dog dressed up in rain gear desperate to interact with the stray dogs and pulled away. From that one clip of freedom denied no-one could fail to make the connection between human behaviour and the reactive dog epidemic we seem to find ourselves in.
There was no Hollywood, no contrived story desperately trying to add false drama to impress fickle viewers. They were no dog deaths, no injuries, no cruelty towards the free roaming dogs. There was simply, the wonderful truth of how dogs act when their lives are freer. The film was 70 delicious minutes of dogs making choices.
Stray will make you question not only your own dog’s freedoms but humanity itself. This film will open your heart to things you might not have expected and it’s not a film you will only watch once – there’s way too much to learn. Stray will resonate deeply with you, simply because it’s a work of ethical and empathetic genius.