Documentary Film
69 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Peter Kuczinski
Lena Leonhardt
John Gürtler, Jan Miserre, Lars Voges
Sebastian Bäumler
Timm Kröger
Lena Leonhardt
Alexander Rubin, Christoph Schilling, Simon Peter, Udo Steinhauser
Somewhere deep in the German forests strange things are going on: young soldiers are taking robust dogs out on short leashes. The recruits are trained to become army dog handlers within a year, a period in which man and animal are supposed to learn that they need each other to become what they are or should soon be: not only a functioning unit but actually a symbiosis.

Step by step the playful relations between man and animal turn into purposeful training and tough drill. Even scenarios that seemed rather vague a moment ago come more and more to resemble real emergencies. A reality long known to another protagonist: at the same time, in the same training camp, a traumatised Kosovo veteran is to be rehabilitated with the help of a therapy dog. Gradually Lena Leonhardt’s film turns into an equally concentrated and wide-ranging narrative of what it means to be a soldier – and the doubts about the meaning of this meaning.

Ralph Eue

Nominated for DEFA Sponsoring Prize, Goethe-Institute Documentary Film Prize