Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Bringing ‘Quill’ to American Audiences

Quill.JPGThe fact that Quill had been a big hit in Japan when it was released in 2005 was not the main reason Ed Arentz, managing director of Music Box Films, was attracted to the opportunity for his company to distribute the film in the United States. Part of the company’s programming strategy to obtain “art-house” films for kids, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog was released to theaters and VOD platforms this past May and streets July 10 on DVD.

Although it had been a top 10 release in 2005 in Japan and had done well in other markets, its screenings in the U.S. were mostly at festivals, which is where Arentz “happened to see it,” he says. “It spoke to me on a personal level,” he shares. The story follows the life of one remarkable dog from his puppy days through his time as a service animal to a disabled man and into his old age. For Arentz, the connection was immediate. “[I saw it] during a period of time when my daughter, wife and I were foster parents to seeing-eye puppies.”

He felt the movie was a great tribute to dogs in general, and “especially to these breeds, the enormously helpful service dogs. They are remarkable partners in so many different activities, able to do things we can’t do for ourselves.”

Believing Quill to be a moving film that would speak to others as it had to his family, Arentz says, “The biggest challenges were convincing colleagues and partners that this was a film we should get involved with.”

He gave it an extended title, adding to the simple name of the dog it biographies (“Quill”) the more informational “The Life of a Guide Dog.” And the company added subtitles. Not that there is much dialog, anyway, Arentz points out. “Quill is not a fantasy animal; he doesn’t speak. We intuit what Quill is thinking from the actions.

“The story, we felt, was affecting and direct enough, it didn’t need to be guided that much by subtitles.” Comparing the film to a picture book, Arentz says even a 5- or 6-year-old could follow the story. “A child will easily understand the emotional aspect of the story” – with maybe just a little input from his or her parent, filling in any additional details the subtitles provide.EdArentz.jpeg

This final paragraph comes to readers with a “spoiler alert” warning, so you may wish to read no further.

“Like the best dog films, from Old Yeller to Marly, this film ends in a bittersweet way,” says Arentz. But based on his own experience as a foster parent to three potential seeing-eye dogs (two of whom graduated to become seeing-eye companions and one of whom remains with his family as a pet), he feels the film is a very honest portrayal of dogs he calls “remarkable.”

Ed Arentz shares more about Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog as a guest on this week’s episode of KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions, which streams on Voice America Kids.

Photos: Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog DVD box art (top), Ed Arentz (bottom)

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