By DAN TAYLOR,
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
“Worst in Show,” a 90-minute documentary by two local filmmakers about the annual, wildly popular “World’s Ugliest Dog Contest” in Petaluma, will be shown at the 13th annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival, running Thursday (Feb. 3) through Feb. 17.
The film follows the rivalry between the 2009 winner, Pabst, a boxer mutt with a serious underbite, and Rascal, the 2002 champ, leading up to last summer’s contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair. And it profiles surprise challenger Princess Abby, a Chihuahua mix from Clear Lake.
“Worst in Show,” made by Don Lewis of Petaluma and John Beck of Benicia, screens twice during the festival, on Feb. 9 and Feb. 13 at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St., San Francisco. For more festival information: www.sfindie.com, (415) 820-3907.
When they started work on the film last spring, the filmmakers soon discovered an ugly-dog contest circuit had developed, and they began interviewing experts on various aspects of the phenomenon.
“The real turning point was when we found ourselves in a Stanford professor’s office, talking about whether or not the dogs knew they were ugly,” Beck said.
Beck and Lewis previously collaborated on “Stringers,” a 10-minute documentary that follows video freelancers in San Francisco as they document crime scenes and sell the footage to TV stations. The film won the audience award for best documentary short at the 2006 Austin Film Festival.
Beck, a staff writer at The Press Democrat from 1998 to 2009, writes freelance articles about entertainment.