Filmmaker Gorman Bechard devoted the first half of his film career to narrative feature films, writing and directing such fare as Psychos in Love (1987, starring Debi Thibeault and Carmine Capobianco as serial killers in love) and Friends (With Benefits) (2009, teaming Alex Brown with Margaret Laney).
He then switched gears and began making documentaries, which have often focused on musicians (he was a music critic at one time). These include: Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements (2011), What Did You Expect?: The Archers of Loaf - Live at Cat's Cradle (2012) and Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart (2013). All three documentaries are currently available on DVD.
From this track record of horror, romance and artist-themed documentaries you would never have expected a heartfelt tale of love, kindness and a story of a man and his dog … a man and his dog on a very special mission.
That’s what you have with his latest documentary film, A Dog Named Gucci, which is on its way to DVD on Apr. 19 from What Were We Thinking Films, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group.
It was an evening in June of 1994 and a trio of miscreants thought it would be great fun to hang a 12 week-old puppy by its neck from a tree, beat it like a punching bag and then, bored with that, douse it with some lighter fluid and set the defenseless animal ablaze.
That would have been the end to it, but a nearby resident named Doug James heard the dog’s screams and came to its rescue.
Over the next year some gentle souls at Auburn University performed the necessary surgeries to save the dog, now named Gucci. In the meantime, Doug James (with Gucci as a witness) would testify in court as to the events of that night … all three were found guilty. Guilty, but with light punishments — some jail time for one; community service for the other two. Community service?!? Are you serious? It was a joke, but that was the law.
Filmmaker Gorman Bechard could have taken the easy road with A Dog Named Gucci and made his film about hate, injustice and animal cruelty — certainly there was plenty of material to work with. He could have focused his glare on the events of that night and those responsible for such an atrocious act of savagery, instead, this incredible film (you will need Kleenex) follows the quest of an ordinary citizen, Doug James (a college professor) and his friend, Gucci, to reform the legal system to recognize that such behavior should not be rewarded with a simple slap on the wrist.
As a result of his efforts in the state of Alabama today such behavior now results in a felony conviction and up to a ten-year jolt in prison. It’s a start.
As to Gucci, he lived to be 16-years old and became quite the celebrity. How this little puppy could have ever trusted another human being after the events of that night speaks volumes about the love, the kindness and the care of one man, Doug James … an unlikely hero who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
As to bonus goodies, there is an extended video session with filmmaker Gorman Bechard, a North Carolina prosecutor gives tips on how ordinary citizens can become involved and there is a featurette devoted to Gucci memorabilia.
Additionally, filmmaker Gorman Bechard has teamed with recording artists Lydia Loveless, Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder and Brian May (of Queen) — with the backing of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and four of its members (Jessica Oddie, Joan Rhee, Justina Sullivan and Jennifer Cha) — a string quartet — to showcase the soundtrack song, “One Voice.” It will be released nationally on Apr. 16, with all proceeds benefitting animal charities.