An astonishing documentary portrait of the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank to finance his male lover’s sex-reassignment surgery was the real-life inspiration for the classic Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon.

TIFF Docs

The Dog

Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren

John Wojtowicz took pride in being a pervert. Coming of age in the 1960s, his libido was excessive even by the libertine standards of the era, with multiple wives and lovers, both women and men. In August 1972, he attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank to finance his lover's sex-reassignment surgery. The act resulted in a fourteen-hour hostage situation that was broadcast on TV. Three years later Al Pacino portrayed his crime in Dog Day Afternoon. The film had a profound influence on Wojtowicz (who pronounced his name "Woto-wits"). When he emerged from a six-year prison sentence, he was known as "The Dog."

Directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren began filming The Dog in 2002. Their long-term dedication pays off in this unforgettable portrait capturing all of the subject's complexity: he is, by turns, lovable, maniacal, heroic, and self-destructive. To call him larger than life feels like an understatement.

Drawing upon extraordinary archival footage, the film shuffles between the 1970s and the 2000s. We gain a historic perspective on New York's gay liberation movement, in which Wojtowicz played an active role. In later footage, he remains a subversive force, backed by the unconditional love of his mother Terry, whose wit and charm infuse the film. How and why the bank robbery took place is recounted in gripping detail by Wojtowicz and various eyewitnesses. Passionate and profane, The Dog makes no apologies for being who he is: "Live every day as if it's your last and whoever doesn't like it can go fuck themselves and a rubber duck."

THOM POWERS

Screenings

Sat Sep 07

Scotiabank 3

Regular
6:30pm
Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 3

Industry
9:15am
Mon Sep 09

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Regular
11:30am
Wed Sep 11

Scotiabank 9

Industry
2:45pm
Sun Sep 15

Scotiabank 3

Regular
9:00pm