IDFA 2018: Chilean Film 'Los Reyes' is a One-of-a-Kind Doggie Doc
by Alex Billington
November 25, 2018
As a life-long dog lover, I am always on the lookout for any new films about dogs. Los Reyes is one of the best dog films I've ever seen, and that's not even hyperbole. This magnificent documentary is about a skate park in the capital city of Santiago, Chile where two dogs reign as kings (hence the title Los Reyes, or The Kings in Spanish). Their names are Chola and Fútbol (or Football), and they've been living there since, well, forever. The film focuses entirely on these two dogs, and it's amazing. It's pretty much perfect (save for one or two shots). These dogs are the coolest, and this is one of the most vividly alive & extraordinarily engaging proofs that dogs do have personalities, friendships, things they love to do, and big thoughts in their minds.
Made by filmmakers Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut, Los Reyes is a stellar achievement because it's so spirited and so absorbing yet features no human characters. At all. It's a film entirely about dogs, though there is a human element to it. Aside from watching Chola and Football run around all day (and take naps), the film adds a layer of social commentary by providing audio recordings from the park. While the camera is focused on the dogs, teenagers nearby chat about everything in their lives at the moment: sex and drugs and parents and romance and how annoying growing up is. And they bounce all this heavy stuff off the two dogs just chilling there, doing what they do, living their lives without worry about anything. They run the park, that is their life. This is what makes it more than just a film about dogs, and it's rather brilliantly presented.
There's so many incredible shots of the dogs, with perfect framing throughout. This film really is my idea of heaven. I loved every, last, stinkin', second of this doggie doc. I want to watch it again, and again, and again, and just revel in its wisdom and glory. It's the Tao of Dogs as a film. There is an abundance of intriguing close-up and macro shots (of the dogs), their fur, their paws, and so much more. I did not care for the insect shots they included, but there's only a few of them. Most of all - all the footage is astounding. If you thought they couldn't make an entire film made up of footage from dogs, from their perspective - they have. And it's the best. They truly are "Kings", as the title says. Watching them express themselves is the epitome of joy - they bark, they jump, they beg, they wag, they play games, they try to get hoomans to throw a ball for them.
Los Reyes is one of those films that, with every minute that goes by, fills me to the brim with an intangible energy and passion and love. It's not just a love for dogs, it's an appreciation for dogs in every sense. For all the good that they bring to this world. It's due to the patience necessary for these two filmmakers to capture this footage, but also in their ability to show just how truly alive animals are. These two lovable hounds may be strays without an owner, but they don't need one to live a good life. We get to spend 88 glorious minutes with them, day in and day out, learning their quirks and favorite toys and things that annoy them. And in doing so, we can also learn to better appreciate the little things in life, to live simpler, just like these doggos.
Alex's IDFA 2018 Rating: 9.9 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing