The Top Dog Film Festival Origin Story With Founder Jemima

Jemima Robinson and her Blue Heeler Luna

In the heart of every dog lover lies a story waiting to be shared, a connection waiting to be celebrated. For Jemima Robinson, the spark that ignited the Top Dog Film Festival was lit in the dim glow of a Canadian cinema, where a captivating 30-minute film about dogs captured her heart. It was a film she yearned to share with fellow dog enthusiasts, yet its elusiveness on mainstream platforms left her pondering. Thus, from this moment of cinematic inspiration and her lifelong love affair with our four-legged companions, the Top Dog Film Festival was born.

Top Dog Film Festival Screening- Sydney 2023
Top Dog Film Festival Screening- Sydney 2023

How have you seen the film festival community grow since you started it?

Since the first Top Dog Film Festival tour eight years ago, the community of dog lovers has blossomed across Australia, New Zealand, and the US, with this year marking a significant milestone as the festival expands its reach to China. Initially conceived as a gathering for dog owners, the festival has evolved into a beloved event that welcomes not only those fortunate enough to have a furry companion but also individuals who simply adore dogs but may not currently have one in their care.

For many attendees, the festival serves as a source of pure dog- loving joy, especially for those who have recently experienced the loss of a cherished four-legged family member. While they may not yet be ready to open their hearts and homes to a new pet, the festival provides a comforting space to revel in the companionship and affection that dogs bring into our lives. It’s a heartwarming reminder that the bond between humans and dogs transcends ownership, offering solace and joy to all who share in their love.

What are the most rewarding aspects of this particular film festival?

One of the aspects I love most about the Top Dog Film Festival is the variety of people who attend.  It is such a broad cross section of the community but they all have 1 thing in common – their love of dogs.  I love being in the foyer and seeing everyone from the very young, to the elderly come together to appreciate the incredibly positive impact dogs have on our lives.  We also love to help raise the profile of local dog rescue centres who are working hard to re-home dogs.  We recently screened the Top Dog Film Festival at the outdoor cinema in Broome.  Attendees could bring their dogs and over 80% of the dogs in attendance were rehomed from the local dog shelter (SAFE).  Seeing all of these beautiful and happy mixed breed dogs living their best lives was fantastic.

Top Dog Film Festival Brisbane Screening 2023
Top Dog Film Festival Brisbane Screening 2023

What is the goal/ purpose of the Top Dog Film Festival?

The Top Dog Film Festival aims to unite the enthusiastic community of dog lovers to celebrate our deep connection with dogs. Our purpose is to share stories from fellow dog enthusiasts and shed light on the challenges faced by dogs in need.

Tell us about your love for dogs and introduce us to your dog Luna

My affinity for dogs traces back to my upbringing on a cattle station in North Queensland, where dogs were an integral part of our daily lives. I was always intrigued by the distinct roles our “pet dogs” played compared to the hardworking canines on the ranch. This fascination only deepened as I traveled the world post-university, encountering the diverse ways dogs are woven into different cultures and societies. Whether observing street dogs in Mexico or marveling at Avalanche dogs in Canada, I realised that dogs lead lives as varied and vibrant as the humans they accompany.

Now settled in northern Sydney, I’m privileged to share my life with Luna, our beloved blue heeler. At four years old, Luna is a bundle of energy and affection. She has an undeniable penchant for balls, and her enthusiastic barking, accompanied by a vigorously wagging tail, never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Luna harbours a peculiar grudge against garbage bin wheels and flies, yet beneath her spirited exterior lies a gentle soul—the biggest sook and the ultimate snuggle companion. It’s no wonder Luna serves as the inspiration behind the Top Dog Film Festival logo, a fitting tribute to the boundless love and joy dogs bring into our lives.

Luna the Blue Healer
Luna the Blue Heeler

What do you hope for the future of the Top Dog Film Festival?

Looking ahead, our aspirations for the future of the Top Dog Film Festival are bright and ambitious. We envision a platform where the captivating stories of dogs from every corner of the globe can be shared and celebrated. Central to our mission is the amplification of the remarkable work carried out by local dog shelters, spotlighting their tireless efforts to provide a brighter future for our furry companions.

Furthermore, we are committed to showcasing more Australian films in our program each year, highlighting the unique bond between Australians and their canine counterparts. It’s a testament to our commitment to celebrating local talent and stories that resonate with our audiences.

In our pursuit of inclusivity, in the future we’d like to incorporate closed captions at every screening, ensuring that individuals of all abilities can partake in the magic of the Top Dog Film Festival. By fostering an environment of inclusivity and diversity, we hope to spread the joy and camaraderie that dogs bring into our lives to an even broader audience. Together, we look forward to a future filled with heartwarming tales, meaningful connections, and the unwavering spirit of canine companionship.

Luna- the inspiration behind the Top Dog Film Festival logo

Look out for tickets to the 2024 film festival, going to sale soon!

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