The Year of the Dog debuts in Montana

Poignant Montana-made film boasts starpower and potent message

New & Notable

The independent feature film, The Year of the Dog, debuted Sept. 30 to an enthusiastic audience at Showboat Cinemas in Polson and will be screened at nine theaters across the state in October.

The Year of the Dog on location in Bozeman, Livingston and the Paradise Valley with a cast and crew pulled from across the state.
The Year of the Dog was filmed in Bozeman, Livingston and the Paradise Valley with a cast and crew pulled from across the state.

The Montana-based producers of the film, in partnership with the Polson-based film distribution company, Nova Vento Entertainment, will host several statewide special screenings at theaters in Havre, Glasgow, Cut Bank, Lewistown, Wolf Point, Dillon, as well as in Salmon, Idaho, through Oct. 6, and in Livingston, Oct. 7-13. In addition, it is scheduled to be shown at the Chelsea Film Festival in New York on Oct. 15.

Filmed exclusively on location in Bozeman, Livingston and the Paradise Valley with a cast and crew predominantly pulled from across the state ─ Bozeman, Missoula, Butte, Livingston, Red Lodge and Polson ─ The Year of the Dog is about two strays: Matt, an alcoholic struggling to maintain sobriety and Yup’ik, a rescue dog with an unusual athletic gift.

Robert Grabow, an award-winning filmmaker who hails from Livingston, wrote, co-directed, produced, and starred in the film.

“To debut our film in Montana, and Polson specifically, is a dream come true,” he says. “To make this film in Montana with Montana locals and then have this chance to share our film, which we think is special, with our Montana family is everything.”

Grabow, who plays Matt, a young man struggling with addiction and loss, is from Livingston, and graduated from a Park High School (as did his grandfather). He performed in the SYFY Network TV series Z-Nation and the feature film Mickey and the Bear which premiered at the South by Southwest and Cannes Film Festivals.

The film features an accomplished cast of film and television actors including Jon Proudstar (a veteran of 43 films and short-listed for Emmy consideration for his performance as Leon in Reservation Dogs); Lakota actor and Bozeman resident Michael Spears (Dances with Wolves, Skins, Into the West, Yellow Rock, Longmire, and Reservation Dogs, Season 2); Broadway actor and Bozeman local Aaron Finley (starred in the Emmy Award-winning Moulin Rouge and performed in the original productions of Kinky Boots and Rock of Ages); reality TV actor Abram Boise from Livingston (MTV’s Road Rules South Pacific and The Challenge); and Jeff Medley of Missoula, who has amassed over 20 film and television credits, including six films slated for release in 2022, with roles alongside stars such as Nicholas Cage.

Of course, the biggest star is the Siberian husky who plays Yup’ik. The role is played by Caleb, a rescue dog who had bounced between foster homes for years because he was reportedly “too much dog,” before landing in the loving care of Cathy and Gregg Pittman of the Performing Animal Troupe. While “The Year of the Dog” marks Caleb’s feature-film debut, he’s also starring in Petco commercials.

“Rumors of Brando reincarnated floated around set,” says Grabow of his co-star’s copious talent.

According to Grabow, “The Year of the Dog is more than a feel-good dog film. It’s a heart-warming journey of forgiveness, finding purpose, being vulnerable, making connections, and ultimately healing.”

In addition to being “a well-acted, interesting film with great music and an abundance of cool dog moments,” Grabow hopes that his movie “inspires people to continue to open themselves up emotionally and to connect with those they love.”

Information on special screening locations and times, production stills, cast and crew, trailers and national release dates are available online.