Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs — “My Dog Tulip” introduction

I arrived at the Kabuki yesterday afternoon, the festival buzz surrounding me, and felt like I wes home again amongst the other anxious, chatty film lovers. Within five minutes of arriving, we ran smack into Jeanne Tripplehorn at the top of the escalator, and caught ourselves seconds before we cried out “Barb!” (Big Love). Turns out Tripplehorn was there for the screening of “Morning.” We awkwardly said “hi,” and when Tripplehorn graciously smiled back at us (we sort of expected that she’d ignore us), we added “Morning” to our list of films.

We weren’t there to see “Morning” but instead to check out “My Dog Tulip,” an animated film by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger. Paul is an illustrator and creator of many animated films and shorts, and is well-known for his work on a number of projects including Sesame Street. Paul brought Tulip, an Alsatian – or as we later discovered – also known as a German Shepard, back to life on the screen. Tulip, who was actually “Queenie,” was the best friend of British writer and BBC arts editor, J.R. Ackerly. Ackerly, dismayed by his inability to find love and the “ideal” friendship among his two-legged companions, turned to Queenie, who for reasons unknown to anyone (including the film’s producer, Norman Twain, who spoke with us after the show), Ackerly renamed “Tulip” in his 1956 book regarding his life with the dog (the book has been in print ever since).

San Francisco Film Society programmer, Sean Uyehara, was a brave soul when he admitted to the Tulip audience before the film that he wasn’t a “dog person,” but had enjoyed the film nonetheless. I don’t expect to see Sean at Duboce Park anytime soon, but kudos to him for taking the stage and sharing that with the dog-loving audience. It is true, though, that you really don’t have to be a dog lover to appreciate the film. Anyone who’s found meaning in a relationship with any animal, nature, or creature other than the two-legged kind can relate to Tulip.

However, having experienced the joys of a dog – especially a dog that loves to roll in horse manure and, as a houseguest, puke all over your gracious host’s floor – certainly doesn’t hurt. Ohhhhhh Tulip [or, your dog’s name here] , what would we do without you?!

If you can escape the pooch and Fort Funston for a few hours this week, catch Tulip tomorrow at the Kabuki at 4:15 p.m. or in Berkeley on Saturday, May 1 at 8:50 p.m.

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