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Stray Dog
A film by Debra Granik
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film stillRon "Stray Dog" Hall lives in Southern Missouri where he owns and operates the At Ease RV Park. After years of living alone with his dogs, he is adjusting to life with his wife, Alicia, who is newly arrived from Mexico. Anchored by his small dogs and big bikes, Stray Dog seeks to strike a balance between his commitment to his family, neighbors, biker brotherhood, and fellow veterans. As part of the legacy of fighting in the Vietnam War, he wrestles with the everlasting puzzle of conscience, remorse, and forgiveness.

With Stray Dog as our guide, we experience the restlessness of ex-warriors as he tries to make peace with what he can't change and weathers the incomprehension of those who have never been to war. Stray Dog navigates the pressures of everyday life including the economic survival of his grandchildren and the increasing poverty of his community. The arrival of Alicia's twin sons from Mexico throws into harsh relief the current state of opportunity that newcomers seek and that America can or cannot offer.

Stray Dog continues to tally the cost of war, bearing witness to the soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan: both the dead and the living. The questions of contemporary American life loom larger and thornier, leaving us to wonder what is next for Stray Dog and his blended, multi-ethnic family.

"Valuable in many ways—as the sympathetic documentation of a family's perseverance in hard times; as an example of compassionate cinéma vérité; as a chance to spend time with some very interesting people—but perhaps its greatest virtue lies in its powerful, implicit challenge to the lazy habit of looking at American life through polarized red- and blue-tinted lenses."The New York Times

"Novelistic in its depth and breathtaking in its humanity."Vulture

"A stirring, surprising, empathic portrait of a Harley-riding trailer-court king."Village Voice

"Director Debra Granik provides plenty of surprises in her superb slice of American life on the margins... In an era when many coastal Americans' ideas of the heartland poor come from hicksploitation TV series, STRAY DOG provides a very welcome corrective."Variety

"Sympathetic without being sentimental or condescending, STRAY DOG is an enormously touching, understated look at an aging Vietnam veteran still wrestling with the invisible scars of a war that took place some 40 years ago... Touches on family, faith, love and survival with an effortless grace."Screen International

"A remarkable portrait not only of this particular man, but of a culture in a transitioning moment. As we welcome home even more generations of traumatized soldiers, it's the Vietnam vets that we have to look to to understand how this will affect these men and women down the road."IndieWire

"In its quiet, vérité way, Stray Dog ponders some of the major issues in American life... It's a film that starts as a character study and builds into something much larger."A.V. Club

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, 2014 Independent Spirit Award
Nationwide Broadcast on PBS's "Independent Lens"
Best Documentary, 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2014 Atlanta Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2014 Twin Cities Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2014 Indie Memphis Film Festival
Alliance of Women Film Journalists' EDA Award, 2014 Salem Film Fest
2014 New York Film Festival
2014 BFI London Film Festival
2014 St. Louis International Film Festival
2014 Stockholm International Film Festival

102 minutes / color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2014
DVD Sale: $24.98

Subject areas:
American Studies, Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Community, Conflict Resolution, Family Relations, Health Issues, History (U.S.), Immigration, Mental Health, Military, Multicultural Studies, PTSD, Poverty, Psychology, Rural Studies, Sociology, Veterans, Vietnam, War and Peace

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Last Updated August 15, 2017
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