Space Dogs | © Viennale


Elsa Kremser, Levin Peter (Austria/Germany 2019)
Space Dogs– not to be confused with Dogs in Space(1986) – begins from figures of animal legend: the dogs, chimpanzees and turtles that were launched off the earth for experimental monitoring during the long-gone era of the "space race". These creatures endured a tough, often tragic cycle: from birth in nature, to being trained, tested and exploited by science, to ending either sacrificed or discarded. Kremser & Peter imagine a different fate: what if these animals are now spirits, reincarnated in the strays that resourcefully wander the streets and fields of Moscow? The montage-counterpoint between the daily life of scrounging canines and heroic myths of famous "space dogs" (as seen in extraordinary archival footage) is heavily ironic. But the film explores a less usual perspective: with few humans visible, we are invited to imagine how animals see, feel and react to the world. This is what philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls bare life: whether being spun around mercilessly in capsules, or killing and eating a cat, these dogs do what they can to survive. Space Dogsis an intimate, observational documentary, unafraid of using fictional devices (like Aleksei Serebryakov's narration).
(Adrian Martin)