Magnolia Pictures has landed North American rights to “Stray,” an award-winning documentary about stray dogs in Istanbul. Elizabeth Lo made her directorial debut with the film, which was originally set to premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival before COVID-19 took the fest online. Variety broke the news about the acquisition.
Taking “a canine’s-eye-view of the streets of Istanbul,” “Stray” follows three dogs “as they roam free, offering a unique take on the Turkish city and its inhabitants,” Variety summarizes. “The dogs’ lives ultimately intersect when they bond with a group of young Syrians who share the streets with them.”
“I followed and filmed Zeytin, a street dog navigating scorn and mercy within the unique city of Istanbul, so that I could share with audiences a vision of independent canine life that’s hard for many to imagine,” said Lo. She added, “I feel thrilled and fortunate to work with Magnolia Pictures, a company I’ve long admired for their curatorial integrity.”
“Stray” was named Best International Feature at Hot Docs, which also took place virtually this year due to the pandemic.
“My original idea for the film was to portray three dogs around the world,” Lo told POV Magazine. “It spurred from a really personal place: my childhood dog had died. I loved him so much, and yet at the time of his death, I couldn’t fully grieve for him because I felt pressured to suppress my grief because he was a pet. I was shocked by external politics that valued him as lesser and influenced how my heart reacted. I wanted to see how the status of a being like a dog could change in different cultural contexts to reveal the arbitrary hierarchies that we construct based on differences.”
In addition to directing, Lo also shot, edited, and produced “Stray.” The director and cinematographer has previously made a number of shorts, including “Mother’s Day” and “Notes from Buena Vista.” Most recently, she served as Director of Photography on an episode of Netflix docuseries “Broken.”