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Exclusive: Real Life Inspiration For 'Dog Day Afternoon' Exposed in Poster for TIFF Doc 'The Dog'

By Indiewire | Indiewire September 3, 2013 at 11:06AM

Documentary subjects don't come more wild than the one at the heart of "The Dog," a portrait of the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank to finance his male lover's sex-reassignment surgery was the inspiration for the classic Al Pacino film "Dog Day Afternoon."
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"The Dog"
TIFF "The Dog"

Documentary subjects don't come more wild than the one at the heart of "The Dog," a portrait of the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank to finance his male lover's sex-reassignment surgery was the inspiration for the classic Al Pacino film "Dog Day Afternoon." The film world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th, and Indiewire has an exclusive first look at the doc's poster.

Here's the official synopsis:

Coming of age in the 1960s, John Woltowicz' libido was unrestrained 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, resulting in a fourteen-hour hostage situation that was broadcast live on. Three years later, John was portrayed by Al Pacino as “Sonny,” and his crime immortalized in one of the most iconic New York movies of all time, "Dog Day Afternoon." The film had a profound influence on Wojtowicz (who pronounced his name "Woto-wits"), and when he emerged from a six-year prison sentence, he was known by his self-imposed nickname: "The Dog." Drawing upon archival footage, the film shuffles between the 1970s and the 2000s. Touching upon the sexual revolution of the 1970s, we gain a first-hand perspective on New York's historical gay liberation movement in which Wojtowicz played an active role. In later footage, he remains a subversive force, backed by the unconditional love and headstrong wit of his mother Terry. The hows and whys of the bank robbery are recounted in gripping detail by Wojtowicz and various eyewitnesses, and don’t necessarily always align with one another.

And here's info from the filmmakers on why they selected this poster:

As we got to know John Wojtowicz, it became clear that he had meticulously archived his entire life, even long before he was thrown into the spotlight by the events of the robbery and the making of the movie, "Dog Day Afternoon." Little by little, he would show us more letters, mementos and photos he had kept, throughout his life.

One day he showed us a few contact sheets that he had kept. They were photos taken after he came out of prison and some of them, as the one that we ended choosing for the poster, were from a photo shoot done by Marcia Resnick, who has photographed an incredible number of iconic artists, performers, writers and outsiders of the 70's and 80's.   The photos were fantastic, staged, dramatic.  They captured John's attitude. One of the photo shoots was a series of images of John and Stiv Bators, bad boy extraordinaire and lead singer for the band The Dead Boys.

The image that we ended up using was one that caught our attention early on. It was striking. It was humorous and irreverent. It shows John not just as a bank robber but as an actor, a character -- which is what he was kind of turning into as he became "The Dog" (although he never stopped being himself). It's also an image that references film noir, and German expressionism - an exaggerated world, a film world.  That seemed to illustrate "The Dog"'s world well . Perhaps better than if we had used an image of John during the robbery.  Ultimately, it's a great picture of a guy from Brooklyn with a gun.


After screening in Toronto the film will next hit up the 51st New York Film Festival. View the poster below:

The Dog Poster


This article is related to: Posters, Movie Posters, Film posters, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival





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