Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter's Space Dogs is is exclusively playing on MUBI in most countries starting September 10, 2020 in MUBI's Undiscovered series.
It was a Moscow street dog that was the first living being to orbit the Earth some millions of years after our planet's creation. And it is this absurd moment in human history that moved us from the very beginning. We knew that this narrative had not yet reached its conclusion. What happened when Laika's dead body burnt up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere?
As we watched archive footage of a dog in space looking into the camera for minutes, the central question of the film arose: what do dogs see in us humans? This question finally led us to today's Moscow, where we met Laika's descendants and continued their story through them. During the six months we spent with the dogs on the streets of Moscow, we often felt observed and scrutinized by them. Little by little we realized that we knew these animals only as part of our world; we didn't know ourselves as part of theirs. That‘s why we made street dogs the protagonists of our film. They take the place normally reserved in cinema for humans. We wanted to create a cinematic experience in which dogs lead us through the city. Telling their story means revealing the cracks of a city. The dogs dwell where human control fades, where the city decays and new spaces are created. So these animals on the streets are the ever-questing discoverers of unknown worlds. On their obscure nocturnal prowlings they encounter people who are also strays and outcasts, stranded in the ruins of Moscow.
We met stray dogs for the first time during our trips that we made for our last films. One night, during a shoot, two packs of dogs met at a street crossing that was empty of humans. A short fight took place. The groups seemed surprisingly organized. They seemed to have followed their own secret rules and arrangements that we were not able to understand.
In Space Dogs, we tell a story in which the animals are sensitive inhabitants of the city. One can notice it when one looks into a dog’s eyes. One can feel it the archival footage, when Laika's body is being tied into a space capsule. One can hear it when a nightingale sings over an abandoned factory, as if it wants to tell us the story of this place.
This film is about the relationship of another species to us humans. A species that has been used in space history in two ways: both as an experimental object and as a symbol of courage and heroism. The dogs had to fulfill mankind's dream by conquering the cosmos for them. Their story became a fable, a nascent legend, of a bitterness that we chose to illustrate.
Space Dogs is dedicated to these fables and legends, to unknown worlds and to their discoverers.
Images courtesy of Raumzeitfilm.