Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Penny Woolcock Discusses Her Latest Project: Dog Fighting

"Her latest gritty film project exposes the shady world of dog-fighting....Of the many distressing scenes in Penny Woolcock's new documentary, Going to the Dogs, which explores the underground world of illegal dog-fighting in Birmingham, one stands out. It's of a young pitbull in training, not out in the city streets – this breed is far too demonised by both press and the police to go for anything even resembling normal walkies – but rather at home, strapped tightly by its lead on to a treadmill....Penny Woolcock is no stranger to the difficult documentary – previous subjects include homelessness and gang culture – but a film about dog fighting, she admits, 'took a great lump out of my heart. There was a period while filming when I felt completely lost, to be honest. I thought it was going to be unremittingly cruel, but the reality was somehow not quite as bad as I'd feared.' The months she spent infiltrating this hidden world were exhausting for Woolcock, now 64. It left her with nightmares, and migraines. For this reason, she has readily embraced the job she has stepped into next. You see, as well as being a film-maker, she is also a director at the English National Opera, and she is currently deep in rehearsals for a forthcoming production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. Her second career in opera began late in life, when she was invited – out of the blue, the way she tells it – to direct John Adams's Doctor Atomic at the Met in New York. She went on to direct an earlier staging of The Pearl Fishers at ENO in 2010. 'It's exhausting work,' she says, smiling, 'but I will admit, it's a welcome change from dog fighting.'" [Source
No Dogs, Just Fish: Leïla (Hanan Alattar) and Nadir (Alfie Boe) in the 2010 production of Bizet's
The Pearl Fishers at ENO directed by Penny Woolcock. (Photo: Dylan Martinez/The Sunday Times)

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