Heart of a Dog

Two weeks into the winter season, four screenings under our belt, and three were sold out. That’s enormously rewarding for us at Carbon Arc, and it’s all thanks to the audience. We really appreciate you showing up and the response we’re getting about the programming has been really positive. Thank you!

The flip side of having all 72 seats filled for a screening is that we inevitably have to turn people away at the door. We are so sorry to do this.

For those who don’t know how the system works, here’s a primer:

  • We encourage you to email us to reserve seats in advance of the screening at carbon.arc.cinema@gmail.com. We’ll put you on a list.
  • You can also buy tickets in advance via PayPal. If you buy through PayPal, your name will go on the list, too.
  • Once we get between 50 and 55 advance tickets sold or reserved, we close online booking and save the last 20 or so for walk-ins on the night.
  • What we’ve been finding is that when we open the doors on Friday at 6:30pm, those 20 or so walk-in tickets go in a flash, usually within 10 minutes. So then we start a waiting list. If anyone who reserved or paid for advance tickets doesn’t appear, at 7:01pm we start to sell those remaining tickets to those folks on the waiting list. Usually there are a few who don’t appear, so sometimes a few lucky people on the waiting list get in at the last minute.

We really encourage people to email us and reserve, or, if you can’t, make sure you get to the Museum at 6:30 for one of those final 20 seats.

If we have turn folks away, why don’t we have more second screenings? ... I hear you ask.

It’s a tough call, knowing whether or not there’ll be enough interest in a film to justify a screening at 9pm. We tried a number of second screenings in the fall, but many of them were to only a handful of patrons. That said, we predict the popularity of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, showing on February 26, will justify two screenings, at 7pm and 9:30pm.

We’re always learning and listening, hoping to better serve this community of film lovers.

I’m going to be profiling the Carbon Arc volunteers and programmers in this blog, and when I get to Carbon Arc director Siloën Daley, we’ll discuss the future of the cinema, and what ideally we’d like to see happen with it as we move into the future. How will we manage this success? I’ll put that question to her.

Now, to Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog.


This was the pick of our programmer Zack Miller. He’d heard great things about it, and we (the programmers) were all glad to have an opportunity to show it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, I know Laurie Anderson’s work as a musician, as an artist, and I knew she was the longtime partner of Lou Reed, who died in October 2013.

The documentary is a wonderfully hypnotic piece, by turns intellectual and philosophical, whimsical and funny. She looks back at the life of her rat terrier, Lolabelle, through home movie footage and recreations, as well as deft use of animation and images of her paintings. Anderson’s voice is the only constant, her playful intonation and curious approach leading us down the garden path through New York’s West Village and into the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism.

Laurie Anderson's artwork, as seen in  Heart of a Dog

Laurie Anderson's artwork, as seen in Heart of a Dog

The meandering theme is one of change, and death, but also the expression of creativity. Her story of how she taught the dog to play piano in her final few years is a highlight, as is her assessment of the personality of dogs represented in different breeds. I also enjoyed the stories from her childhood, for instance, when she (temporarily) lost the use of her legs after a swimming accident.

What I found was the overlay of imagery, music, and the sound of Anderson’s voice, at times made the text tertiary to the feel and look of the piece. I caught myself less focussed on what she was saying rather than how it was being said, lulled by the soft sounds, the movement of water or melting snow on the windshield as she shot footage from a slowly moving car. But I never felt I was missing anything. I think the warm feeling of the film is conveyed even as I didn’t always grasp every point she was making, especially as her musings moved into the poetic.

Lou haunts the film, even though he’s only briefly spotted within its running time. He manifests at the end with one of his songs in the end credits, a photo with him and the dog, and a dedication.

People were definitely moved by Heart of a Dog. There were moist eyes and sad smiles in the faces of the departing audience. And, like Boy And The World, the film earned a round of applause when the credits rolled.

Out for a walk, Lolabelle sneaks into frame

Out for a walk, Lolabelle sneaks into frame


Next week: Embrace of the Serpent.