Earth Films’ mega production - The Tails of Boo-Boo & Cuddly Poo are turning heads everywhere. After earning citations at the latest editions of the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival and the Kalakari Film Festival, the documentary has now gone beyond boundaries – more specifically to Houston, USA – to win a WorldFest Silver Remi Award for Film & Video Productions in the Category ‘Animal Welfare’.
A galaxy of celebrities weighed in on the project, including actors, musicians, stand-up comedians and influencers. The project attracted the likes of Shraddha Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Amrita Puri, Samir Kochhar, Shibani Dandekar, Cyrus Broacha, Maria Goretti Warsi, Sapna Bhavnani, Shaheen Bhatt, Anushka Manchanda, Atul Khatri, Abhishek Upmanyu and Scherezade Shroff, amongst several others. Animal lovers, all!
Speaking on her experience, Bollywood star Shraddha Kapoor said: “I loved being a part of the documentary and hope this brings awareness to the plight of stray animals especially since the monsoons are coming up. Shyloh is such an integral part of my life and I can’t imagine my life without her, I would want everyone to have that happiness in their life.”
The honour came at the 55th Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival recently. The oldest independent film festival in the world, WorldFest-Houston helped legendary moviemakers like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, Ridley Scott and Oliver Stone find their way into the spotlight by conferring them with their very first awards.
Founded in 1961, the festival evolved into a competitive, global format in 1968. Ever since, it has been the platform for independent filmmakers from all around the world to showcase their creative brilliance. The 10-day festival attracts over 4500 entries from more than 75 countries every year.
By winning a Silver Remi at WorldFest-Houston, The Tails of Boo-Boo & Cuddly Poo has laid down a significant marker. A quirky take on a very serious matter, the film attempts to sensitize society to the plight of stray animals by deftly training the spotlight on cruelty, abandonment, rescue and love.
The brains and heartbeat behind the film is Creator and Director Salil Jason Fernandez, produced by Earth Films whose Founder & CEO, Vandana Sethhi played a key role as the Producer. But even beyond these two pivotal players, it was the amazing and heart-warming coming together of celebrities and talent that injected an adrenalized dose of success. The entire project ran pro bono, with every single person – in front of or behind the camera – waiving their professional fee… something that could have run into hefty figures. It was their innate love for animals that sparked the collective benevolence. Truly, a passion-driven effort and a labour of love for the voiceless.
Salil Jason Fernandez said: “Every day and night, welfare workers across the city feed, care, heal, rescue, rehome, and love stray animals, tirelessly, selflessly, thanklessly. Every day and night they are faced with innumerable hurdles, the biggest obstacle of them all being people. So, I asked myself one question: Do I feel compelled to create a documentary on the plight of stray animals for the world to watch? Although the answer was clear, never in my wildest dreams did I think that this passion project would become a mammoth collaboration and a genre buster that pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking.”
Vandana Sethhi’s sentiment was similar albeit from a different perspective. “I believe in coexistence and the concept of 'Equal Earth'. It's about ensuring that the Earth and its bounties are equally shared by all God's creatures; not just by humans alone. The relationship between dogs and humans ranges from one of dependence to apathy. This documentary is in tandem with my belief and that is what attracted me first towards the idea of this film. Film is an extremely powerful medium. It can entertain, inform, influence, educate... and now as we have shown, it can even be a voice for the voiceless.”
Actor Jim Sarbh, who also participated in the project, recounted his personal experience with his cat Mimi: “My life changed when Mimi walked into it; she’s been my reason for sanity during the lockdown. I think everyone should adopt an animal, give them love and a home, for the love you get back is manifold.”
The universal message of the documentary is about embracing stray dogs and cats – the narrative even narrowing towards pertinent points like the debate of ‘pedigrees versus strays’. In the end, when it all comes down to a voice for the voiceless, The Tails of Boo-Boo and Cuddly Poo has raised a crucial flag for stray animals across India. Creator and Director, Salil Jason Fernandez summarized it all perfectly: “If the film helps get the Animal Welfare Bill over the finishing line, it will be a bigger achievement than any award.”
As things stand, it could turn out the best of both worlds. Film awards, tick! Animal Welfare Bill – fingers crossed! The prestigious win at WorldFest-Houston is sure to give the documentary and its original objective a huge fillip. Meanwhile, the mantelpiece is starting to happily crowd out!
Tags – Earth Films, Vandana Sethhi, Salil Jason Fernandez, Shraddha Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, The Tails of Boo-Boo and Cuddly Poo, Animal Welfare Film, Award Winning Film, The Houston International Film