Le Chien qui Fume - A Smokey Life
A feature film with a "what if" narrative - in docu-fiction form.
The film follows an Australian academic, Dr. Sylvie Gaspard, who believes that her family owns a "lost" painting by the great Belgian artist James Ensor. The painting depicts a smoking dog performing in a small circus tent. Sylvie, an expert in French surrealist poetry, soon discovers that the painting is merely a clue to a much deeper mystery - the forgotten life of a smoking, upright-walking dog believed to have wandered through the formative years of twentieth century art.
Sylvie discovers two separate archives of smoking dog paintings on opposite sides of the world. Gradually she traces their provenance back to two painters. Both were patients in an experimental shell-shock ward on the battlefields of Flanders in 1918. The ward was presided over by a young doctor named André Breton, who went on to become the founder of the Surrealist movement. The nurse to these two shell-shocked painters, Peony Mei, a stateless Chinese national, was a supremely gifted animal trainer. Completing this group was a large dog who wandered in one day from "who knows where?"