Netherlands, 86 min
Walking in the forest without being able to see, coming down the stairs or going shopping when one is paralysed, falling asleep with post-traumatic stress disorder: for the protagonists of Buddy, all of this is made possible by the presence of an assistance dog at their side. Edith, 86 years old and blind since adolescence, remembers all of the dogs she has had with her, and their portraits—even if she cannot see them—cover the walls of her house. Zeb, an autistic child, tells how his dog Utah senses when he is anxious and manages to calm him down, whereas the wife of Trevor, an army veteran traumatised by combat, explains that they would probably no longer be together had their dog not been present. Through their stories, Heddy Honigmann explores the deep bonds that unite humans and animals. Through her questions, she attempts to grasp this unique connection, to capture in words a relationship that is not so much built by language as by a special alchemy. What thus emerges, beyond these individual portraits, is a profound and moving picture of the devotion of these animals and the fighting spirit of their masters.