Directed by Senol Tastan, ‘Second Life’ is a documentary short that immortalises the efforts of a local Bosnian NGO in improving the lives of dogs across the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The documentary follows ‘Save the Dogs BIH’, an organisation dedicated to alleviating the suffering of street dogs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These dogs are often found in dilapidated conditions such as in abandoned buildings and shrubs and in several cases, people themselves come and dump their dogs at the NGO’s ranch themselves.
The team consistently has its hands full as it ensures that these creatures receive the necessary care, food and shelter required whilst navigating the funding and space issues at their ranch at the same time. The organisation wants to ensure that the rights of these animals are protected and that they manage to live out their lives in peace, harmony, and contentment.
Documentaries that do not preach overtly or appeal authentically to the audience’s emotions are dime a dozen, but Second Life pulls this off flawlessly; it is an exhibition of the great work done by a bunch of good samaritans that will go to any lengths for a cause they believe in. It is a genuine effort from individuals who love and care for dogs so much that they would fight the world for them.
The documentary is earnestly made, and each member of the team comes across as someone who really wants to change the conditions of these animals for the better. Tastan employs camera crews to follow the crew along for several of their rescues and even takes the audience to a trip to the dog ranch which the organisation has managed to construct after considerable difficulties. Grassroots organisations that start from scratch and end up tackling big issues need considerable support in their initial years and Save the Dogs BIH has been fortunate in this regard.
A further plus point here is that the organisation places less emphasis on adoptions and more on creating a solution locally through the dog ranch. With thousands of dogs across the country, it would be impossible to place them all into ranches. Rather, the organisation is looking for a sustainable solution that would both be cost effective and in line with the physical requirement of the animals. As the team makes it clear, their biggest challenge remains the municipal shelter, where more than 1,000 dogs are housed and live in poor condition due to overcrowding and lack of legal regulations.
As for the technical aspects of the documentary, the cinematography is stunning, and the green peaks and hills of this Eastern European nation are exemplified in all its glory. The country has stunning natural beauty that rivals any major tourism hotspot. Tastan incorporates handheld camera shots that show work on the ground level with drone shots to illustrate a larger area. This works well in the service of the story that the makers are trying to tell. Equally impressive is the sound design that puts the audience in a perspective where we feel we are going along with the team as it heads out on its daily missions. There is nothing flashy or over the top about this and it works well in the context that it is presented.
With so much cruelty directed at animals in most of the world, it is good to see that there are still good men fighting to provide animals with the necessary love and compassion that they require to live out their lives. The documentary exudes hope and in these dark and trying times, hope is rare and must be cherished. The journey that Save The Dogs BIH is undergoing is all the more impressive, considering the lack of resources and legal support that they are faced with in their own country.
A potent documentary that exemplifies charity and kindness, ‘Second Life’ showcases how even a small effort can make a difference when it comes to saving and rehabilitating animals. In a nation such as Bosnia, it is the work of these grassroots organisations that makes all the difference. Therefore, Second Life not only celebrates the good work of animal rights activists in the Balkan nation but also celebrates the humanity within us all as we try to do our small parts to make the world a better place.
WATCH ‘SECOND LIFE’
(English subtitles available!)