Explore both sides of the Alaskan Iditarod: Sports Entertainment vs. Animal Cruelty. Sled Dogs comes to the Newport Beach Film Festival this Tuesday, April 22 at 5:45 PM at the Island Cinemas at Fashion Island.
What happens to huskies before and after the Iditarod? That’s the question that director Fern Levitt set out to answer in Sled Dogs, the hard-hitting new documentary that has been described as the Blackfish of the dogsledding industry. The film, which will debut in the U.S. in July, recently nabbed two awards at the Whistler Film Festival in British Columbia, where part of the documentary is set.
Sled Dogs exposes the Iditarod’s dark side, from breeders who kill dogs who don’t make the cut to the barren summertime kennels to the deadly race itself that claimed five lives this year alone.
In many commercial dog sled companies, dogs are continually tethered to a chain and euthanized when they’re deemed no longer useful. In 2011, the public finally learned this disgusting truth after in incident in Whistler, B.C. where 100 dogs were brutally murdered and thrown into a mass grave by a tourism company after an unprofitable season. Sled dog companies and the B.C. government decried the practice, claiming it to be an isolated occurrence; but animal rights activists maintain that this practice is pervasive throughout the entire industry. This explosive documentary weaves together various characters and narratives to explore a truth about the dog sledding industry while posing the question: “Is the abuse seen against “man’s best friend” disguised as entertainment?