Rebecca Stern is a documentary director and producer. She is the producer of Tre Maison Dasan (PBS 2019) and Netizens (Tribeca 2018), the associate producer of the bomb (Tribeca 2016), and the coordinator on the Oscar nominated Cartel Land. She currently works in Brooklyn, NY, when she’s not playing with her Australian Cattle dog.
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Director: Rebecca Stern
Presented by: Rebecca Stern and Dan Deacon
Starring: Adriane Pope, Angela Kumpe, Cat Opson, Nicole Beckman
2019, USA, 88 minutes, Digital, NR
Rebecca Stern’s feature documentary debut gives us a look into the dazzling and totally bonkers world of competitive creative dog grooming. A world where pets (mainly poodles) are treated not only as companions, but also as blank canvases to be transformed—through hours of fluffing, dyeing, trimming, and coiffing—into living works of art.
The film follows four women ranging in experience from up-and-coming to top-level groomers. Over the course of a full competition year they prepare for the championships and plan increasingly ambitious and flamboyant designs, all while dealing with the trials of everyday life. Despite the wacky subject matter, the film is earnest in its portrayal of the groomers as they find inspiration, camaraderie and success in this colorful world. While their art form has clearly become a full-blown obsession, and some critics make the incorrect assumption that the animals are being harmed by this practice, the women’s dedication to and love for their animals is never in doubt.
Besides offering a charming peek into this curious subculture, Well Groomed is a pure visual delight. Several interludes focus solely on the details of the animals’ technicolor coats while Dan Deacon’s delightful soundtrack takes center stage. It is during these interludes that the viewer is given the space to contemplate the questions that arise from the film. Questions such as how art is defined, how subcultures arise, our relationship to animals and nature, and just how bizarre human beings truly are. (Meredith Moore)
South by Southwest Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival