Arts & Entertainment

Slamdance filmmaker visits, films Nuzzles & Co.

Tim Almeida hopes to inspire change with his work and advocate for shelter animals and the people who love them

PARK CITY, Utah — Tim Almeida, a former musician turned dog trainer and filmmaker, has brought his project, “Dog Spelled Backwards,” to the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival. The film, which delves into the lives of shelter dogs and the people dedicated to their care, has found a special connection with the local nonprofit, Nuzzles & Co.

About the film

“Dog Spelled Backwards,” directed by Richie “Abstrak” Soto (who is also a globally renowned breakdancer), takes viewers on a journey with Almeida, showcasing his work within the American shelter system. The film aims to highlight the untold stories of shelter dogs and the professionals who nurture them. “As you might derive from the title, our dogs can help us become better to each other,” says Almeida.

In an effort to extend his mission beyond the film, Almeida has launched a “Shelter to Shelter” campaign, kicking off at none other than Park City’s very own Nuzzles & Co. This initiative seeks to raise awareness about the adoptability of shelter animals while advocating for improvements in the shelter system.

“Helping dogs and their people is my calling, and while there’s a lot of work to do, specifically in the shelters, there’s also a lot of beauty to share from the shelter community,” Almeida notes, highlighting the dual aspects of challenge and hope in his work.

Connecting with Nuzzles

The people of Nuzzles & Co., a local nonprofit, resonate deeply with the message of Almeida’s film. Josh Stasinos, the development manager at Nuzzles, shares:

“We’re a misfit crew of people with big hearts. We’re here because we love animals, and we believe we’re doing something that matters.”

Nuzzles & Co. provides care and adoption services for animals in need, operating from a 16,000-square-foot ranch in Peoa. Their comprehensive approach includes not only rescue and adoption but also spaying, neutering, and community support programs.

Both Almeida and Stasinos emphasize the transformative power of connecting with, and caring for, animals. “I was really fascinated by connecting with another sentient being that doesn’t speak our language. But for some reason, we figured out each other’s language,” Almeida reflects, highlighting the innate connection between humans and dogs. This connection is a cornerstone of the work at Nuzzles, where volunteers, like an 80-year-old woman who walks each dog for 30 minutes, exemplify the dedication and love that fuel the organization.

Almeida paints this picture:

“Ultimately, we’re drawn to dogs. I mean, with politics it’s like, you support this person who I think I hate. I support this person who you think you hate. But we can have a conversation about how beautiful the other’s dog is and vice versa. You’re just happy about your dogs. And then you realize, oh, we have this in common; we probably have a lot more in common.”

As “Dog Spelled Backwards” premieres at Slamdance, it not only brings attention to an often-overlooked aspect of society but also celebrates the individuals and organizations that dedicate their lives to making a difference. Almeida’s film and the work of Nuzzles & Co. remind us of the profound impact that compassion and care can have, both for animals and for the people who love them.

How to see “Dog Spelled Backwards”

Premieres:
Monday, Jan. 22, 5:15 p.m. at The LUMIX Theater, DoubleTree by Hilton Park City – The Yarrow
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7:15 p.m. at The Summer and David Theater, DoubleTree by Hilton Park City – The Yarrow

To purchase tickets, select a date above and then click “Order Tickets.” “Dog Spelled Backwards” will be released in four 20-minute segments. “I think it gives people a chance to digest each episode,” explains Almeida.

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