The Dog

DIRECTORS: Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren

“There’s sex and there’s love,” states John Wojtowicz, the complex, charismatic subject of this riveting documentary on the real-life inspiration for the 1970s classic Dog Day Afternoon. “I’m a lover,” he asserts, though viewers will likely draw their own conflicting conclusions about the titular anti-hero, an unlikely gay-liberation icon and unrepentant ex-con whose attempt to rob a bank to finance his lover’s gender-reassignment surgery is only part of this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction saga.

Virulently anti-establishment, polymorphously perverse, and contending with mental illness, Wojtowicz is an unreliable narrator of his own story, his bark worse than his bite in recounting that fateful day in 1972 when he burst into a Brooklyn bank. Accompanied by two accomplices, Wojtowicz took hostages and held off the NYPD and the FBI in a 14-hour standoff that was broadcast on TV and ended in his imprisonment. Having gained infamy via Al Pacino’s remarkable portrayal of him in Sidney Lumet’s Oscar®-winner, Wojtowicz emerged from the slammer six years later as “The Dog.”

As family members, ex-wives, and former lovers attest in candid interviews, Wojtowicz’s dogged determination to express his fluid sexuality—whether under the covers, behind bars or in the media spotlight—put him at the forefront of the gay rights movement. Filming for more than a decade, co-directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren’s extraordinary efforts have resulted in an unforgettable portrait of a feisty iconoclast.

— Steven Jenkins

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D310

Co-presented by:
San Francisco DocFest

Sponsor: Bud Light

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