BY ISA MONTAGNESE
This year, Inside Out featured some great documentaries, but I was most excited for The Dog. This doc tells the story of John Wojtowicz, a New Yorker who in 1972 attempted to rob a bank with two accomplices. He was attempting to steal money to give to his partner. The robbery turned into a hostage situation and a huge news story making John a bit of a Robin Hood but also a bit of an embarrassment for the gay community. John was arrested and while in jail, the hugely successful film Dog Day Afternoon (1975) was made about his attempted bank robbery. John quickly became a celebrity and finally got the money he wanted to give to his partner.
If you’ve seen Dog Day Afternoon then you know the story. However, the Hollywood version is just about the robbery and I was more curious about the before and after. The Dog delves into John’s early life, his involvement in the gay activist community in the 70s, his years in jail and his eventual death from cancer.
This film was so impressively made; it was very funny and unapologetic. John seemed like a harsh dude and instead of trying force him into a hero or villain box, the filmmakers showed every part of him. I was surprised to see how long the film was in production. It seemed like the filming went on for years, and I would argue it was very worth it. The film really reflected John’s out-there personality which made the story far more personal and entertaining. If you loved Dog Day Afternoon, then The Dog is worth a watch.
Toronto’s Inside Out Film Festival runs from May 22 – June 1. Read more Inside Out coverage.