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Local Film Makers Explore the Perils of the Sharing Economy in Man’s Best Friend

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This Tuesday marks the start of the 16th Annual Oakland International Film Festival. Screenings will take place at four different venues throughout the city, including Oakland City Hall and the beautiful Grand Lake Theater. One, of roughly a dozen movies to be featured at Oakland’s crown jewel venue this year, is the short film Man’s Best Friend, a movie made by locals that focuses on the relationship between app users and the people actually doing the work in the sharing economy.

The Bay Area’s increasingly problematic gig based economy has become one of the region’s most hot button issues, joining the ranks of San Francisco’s treatment of their homeless population and the Thresher Maw of tech gentrification, which of course feeds into both of these issues. Constructing a thoughtful and original commentary on any of these issues must be done with a deft hand, as it is a conversation that has been probed and prodded from seemingly every angle. In just under 15 minutes, Man’s Best Friend manages to do exactly that.

Martin, a consumer of several different sharing services, is made an early villain when it is revealed that he works in tech and is the type of person that gives low reviews to those serving him for things like, being too talkative or running a little late. He treats people poorly and seems to be completely self centered. By the end of the film, though, the character becomes surprisingly more complex, and less easy to point a finger of blame at. The climax of Man’s Best Friend does not exactly put the audience in a position to sympathize with Martin – he’s absolutely still sort of a shitty guy –  but rather it explores his motivations and lets us see the positive results of his growth, not just for him, but for those that interact with him. Film makers Natasha Blass and Alex Mallonee have created a fresh look at a relationship that is a part of our daily lives, but remains as complicated as ever.

Man’s Best Friend is playing at the 16th Annual Oakland International Film Festival on April 4th at 10pm at Jack London Regal and April 5th at 8pm at Grand Lake Theater. Tickets can be purchased here.

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Jesse McGrath

Jesse McGrath

Jesse McGrath is a writer, comedian, educator and all-around sweetheart. Born and raised in the Bay Area and educated at San Francisco State, he recently migrated out east to Brooklyn. English teacher during the day, full-time delinquent every time else.