Slamdance offers glimpse of Fursonas culture | ParkRecord.com

Slamdance offers glimpse of Fursonas culture

Nan Chalat Noaker, The Park Record

Key characters in Dominic Rodriguez s Slamdance documentary Fursonas paint a diverse picture of the fandom s participants. Pictured left to right: Skye, Freya, Diezel, Boomer and Grix. Photo courtesy of Slamdance.Photo courtesy of Slamdance

During its rise to fame, the Slamdance Film Festival has established a tradition of highlighting little known segments of our culture. Programmers of the renegade festival have been among the first to feature films about Anonymous, ratters, video gamers and followers of the JeJune Institute, to name a handful.

This year they have chosen a film that infiltrates the often maligned furry fandom subculture.

In "Fursonas," his first feature-length documentary, director Dominic Rodriguez sets out to debunk some of the common misconceptions about the growing community of furries, people who dress up in cartoon-like animal costumes.

Along the way, however, he exposes a dramatic rift in the ‘animal’ kingdom.

First, though, Rodriguez introduces some of the people inside of those big furry costumes. Most are gentle souls whose personalities mimic their childlike anthropomorphic avatars.

Diezel the raccoon, Bandit the overgrown puppy dog, Skye the dancing fox and Boomer, also a pet pup, hardly seem to fit the group’s kinky reputation. And that, says Dominic, was his goal.

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"What I wanted to do was to embrace the furry fandom for its complexities."

But, he admits, pornography is part of the picture.

"Google the word ‘furry’ and there is a lot of porn. The horrible answer I have to give is that many are into that, and that is where the stigma comes from.

"But there is so much more to it than that," he explains.

To give his audience a sense of the group’s diversity Rodriguez takes his camera crew to one of the furry fandom’s largest conventions, Pittsburgh’s Anthrocon. According to Rodgriguez, the annual convention a sort of Comicon for two-legged critters, attracts more than 6,000 attendees.

And that is where things get weird. The organizer of the event is a dogmatic oddball refered to as "Uncle Kage" (pronounced Kah-gay) who seems intent on exploiting the rift between those who want to focus on the fun and costumes and those who are more flagrant about flaunting their sexuality.

"I don’t think he has furries’ best interests at heart," says Rodriguez. Nevertheless, as the media’s longtime go-to source for interviews about the furry culture, Rodgriguez said he felt compelled to include Kage in the film.

"Fursonas" is also where Rodriguez reveals his interest in the subject goes beyond that of an objective observer.

"When I come to Park City I will be easy to spot. I am a furry too," he said.

"Fursonas" is showing in the Documentary section of the Slamdance Film Festival at the following times:

  • Jan. 22, 2016 10 a.m., Treasure Mountain Inn Ballroom, Park City
  • Jan. 25, 2016 10 p.m., Treasure Mountain Inn Gallery, Park City