Inja / Dog is a 2002, Oscar nominated short film written and directed by Steve Pasvolsky. It is a story that takes place in South Africa, beginning just before the apartheid ends. The film starts with Thembile, a 12 year old boy, and his new puppy.
The young boy and the puppy get along well, and the scene is a happy one. The lighting was bright, giving the impression of a happy, sunny day. You can really sense the bond beginning between the boy and his new dog.
The mood of the situation quickly changes when the white land-owner makes his first appearance in the film. The man, seeing that the dog favored Thembile, hides the dog’s eyes and forces the boy to abuse his newfound friend, changing the dog’s loyalty forever.
This ‘first half’ of the film was really impressive. It kept you curious the entire time, and managed to evoke the idea of violence without the need to show it visually. My favorite part of the film, though, is the second half, in which the same plot of land is examined years later.
Thembile is no longer a child when the story continues, and the dog is now quite old. The two, along with the land owner, go to work on the fences.
This is where the story, in my opinion, took it’s most interesting turn. While working, the landowner collapses, in need of medication. He begins to call to Thembile for help, but the dog chooses to protect his owner. With gun in hand, Thembile is left with a choice. Appropriately, the film leaves the audience to decide for itself how the scene evolves from there.