Costa Boates gets standing ovation at Toronto film festival

New Zealand documentary feature The Last Dogs of Winter debuted in Toronto yesterday. Director/producer Costa Botes and film subjects Brian Ladoon and Caleb Ross received a standing ovation when they took the stage for the film’s post-screening Q&A session.

The films was selected to screen in the highly regarded ‘Real to Reel’ programme of the Festival, a programme renowned for its selection of the most insightful and fascinating documentaries of the year, screening alongside the latest offerings by documentary film makers such as Werner Herzog, Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney and Jonathan Demme.

Directed and produced by Costa Botes (Forgotten Silver, Candyman, Struggle No More, Daytime Tiger), The Last Dogs of Winter explores Brian Ladoon’s little-known struggle to preserve the Canadian Eskimo dog, the rarest registered breed of dog in the world, from extinction.

For the last three years young New Zealand actor Caleb Ross (The Tribe) has been working alongside Ladoon, committed to the dogs and Ladoon’s self-imposed task of preserving and breeding the dogs.

Jane Schoettle, a programme selector for Real to Reel said of the film: “Botes captures the remorseless northern landscape – as well as the political, financial and meteorological struggles that Ladoon and Ross face in preserving the Qimmiq – with a raw energy and relentless honestly. Captivating and compelling, The Last Dogs of Winter is a film about wildlife – and one wild life.”

Variety magazine described the film as an wilderness lover’s delight and said it was an “intimate, gorgeously rendered documentary.”

The Last Dogs of Winter has been financed by Lone Pine Films Ltd and the New Zealand Film Commission. NZ Film, the sales arm of the NZFC, is handling world sales of the film.

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