(2008, US, 60 min) Dir Alex Lopatin.
A film about the famed first dog into space, directed by Russian-American artist Lopatin: “I wanted to make a film about how I felt about Laika,” he has said, “Initially it was going to be an installation, more free-flowing and associative like my usual work, but I discovered that it was impossible, for me, to make a film about her that wasn’t her story.” He funded the film entirely too and the amount of money up on the screen is testament to his commitment to the subject. It’s not a conventional biopic either, not that a canine biopic has much trouble being mistaken for one. It’s a diptych – the first part about Laika’s discovery on the streets of Moscow and her training up to the point where she is sent into space as well as being about the people who trained and grew attached to her. The second, shorter part follows Laika’s story on Earth as it’s been told from the moment she left the it’s orbit to date, specifically focussing on how she died and the cover up of the facts surrounding it. One benefit of this method is that while we get to hear the heart-breaking particulars of how she died we’re spared a reconstruction of the event. A great, sad film that, disappointingly, will more likely than not stay in the gallery and won’t make it to the cinemas that it deserves to be seen in.