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Cold noses, wagging tails

‘Unleashed!’ puts dog dancing on festival screen

One critic has described Unleashed! A Dog Dancing Story as a movie Christopher Guest would have made. The problem is that no one would have believed it.

The documentary, yet another story about the unbreakable love between people and their dogs, does look ridiculous on its face.

A team of “dog dancers” — spirited amateur trainers who choreograph dances between themselves and their four-legged, long-tongued pals — gets a challenge like no other.

A real-life Corky St. Clair, a canine “freestyler” named Ray, decides the world just has to see his unique theatrical dream: a play that brings dogs, dancers and artistic kite fliers together on a single stage.

Early buzz about the film plays into the heart of Denton’s Thin Line festival, which includes traditional documentary films as well as projects that are scripted, but set up as if the stories and their subjects were the real deal. Viewers have pleaded for Unleashed! to be anything but a “mockumentary,” a genre that eventually lent viability to big-budget films that claim to use found footage (e.g. Cloverfield, The Fourth Kind).

Regardless, the film is sure to score audience points thanks to a clever border collie, a refined collie, a poodle and some spry terriers. And it’s hard not to root for the director who dreams of putting dogs, people and kites on the stage.

Canadian filmmakers Justin Turcotte and Ben Mallin have an eye for all things endearing. Paws2Dance, a British Columbia dog dancing club, is jam-packed with heart, but audiences have to see for themselves if man’s best friend can perform like pros.

— Lucinda Breeding


What: A five-day documentary film and music festival

When: Wednesday through Feb. 16

Where: Films will screen at the Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St., and the Fine Arts Theatre, 115 N. Elm St., on the downtown Square. Live music will be at Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St.; Hailey’s Club, 122 W. Mulberry St.; Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E. Sycamore St.; Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm St.; and the Thin Line Tent, which will be on East Oak Street near Oakland Street, across from Oak Street Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor.

How much: $150 for an all-access festival pass; $75 for a film pass, which grants access to any screening; or $75 for a music pass, which grants access to any Thin Line music venue. Single-day film passes and single-day music passes cost $25 each. To buy passes, visit

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