Melbourne Documentary Film Festival - Dogs of Democracy

Dogs of Democracy is an essay-style documentary about the stray dogs of Athens and the people who take care of them. Shot in location in Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the documentary is about how Greece has become the 'stray dogs of Europe', and how the dogs have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the anti- austerity movement.

Interview with Director Mary Zournazi

Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

I made the film because I fell in love with the Stray Dogs of Athens, and I wanted to tell a story about them. I was also intrigued about the people who take care of them, and what that might say about another way to dream, and another way to hope.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

It tells a story about unique animal-human bonds.

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

The film is a universal story about love and loyalty and what we might learn from animals.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

I began the film with the idea to film the dogs and to meet the people who take care of them. From these interviews, and my film footage, I began to frame a story about the stray dogs of Athens - and about peoples' everyday experience in Greece. The story is about the stray dogs of Athens, but it is equally about the Greek Crisis and how it has affected peoples' lives.

 Dogs of Democracy

Dogs of Democracy

What type of feedback have you received so far?

The film has been screened locally and internationally, and people have had very positive responses - it is a film for anyone who loves animals, and anyone who is interested in democracy, and our challenges today. It appeals to a broad spectrum of audiences...

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

I've been moved by people's feedback. When the film was screened in Athens to a small local audience, the audience felt the story and the film portrayed their experience, and some people came up to me and cried because they were so pleased I was able to communicate their experience, their heartbreak and struggles. It meant a lot to me that the film was received so well by Greek people.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on

I hope that people will able to learn more about the stray dogs of Athens, and peoples' courage and resilience in times of Crisis.

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

I need Buyers for the film – people love it, and it appeals to people of all age groups, and I also need film festival directors as well as journalists to be interested and to see the film.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

I'd like people to understand that people all over the world share a common desire: to live without pain and suffering, and for those of us who are citizens of the world, we have a duty to help people and countries that are in crisis.

 Dogs of Democracy

Dogs of Democracy

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

What can we learn from animals?

How do we imagine Democracy today? 

Would you like to add anything else?

I would like to add that this is my first film, and I learnt a great deal from the project, and I hope that others will enjoy the film just as much as I enjoyed making it. I  worked with a wonderful team: my producer Tom Zubrycki – who took a risk with me and I really value that he was willing to take that risk;  my editor Peter Crombie who was patient, and the music for the film was written and performed by the wonderful Greek Composer Konstantinos Vita. 

What are the key creatives developing or working on now?

I am working on developing a new film that will see me back in Greece. I won’t reveal too much about it yet…!


Interview: June 2017


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Dogs of Democracy

Director: Mary Zournazi

Mary Zournazi is an Australian author and a first time filmmaker.  She is the author of several books including Inventing Peace with the German filmmaker Wim Wenders

Producer: Tom Zubrycki: Tom Zubrycki is an award winning Australian documentary maker,  and heis widely respected as one of Australia’s best documentary makers. He has produced over 14 films.

Writer: Mary Zournazi

Key cast: Stray Dogs of Athens

Looking for: Buyers, Film Festival Directors, Journalists

Social media handles:



Funders: Screen Australia

Made in association with: JOTZ Films

Where can I see it in the next month?

You can see at the Melbourne Documentary Festival July 16 as part of their Charity Documentaries. All funds will go the RSPCA.