Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
ATX Screen Scene
AniFab 2021 was brimming with projects which took aim at the pervasive stray problem across the world, so it’s no surprise that even the wilds of western Tennessee are overrun with more dogs than local shelters and pounds can handle. Enter: Amber Reynolds. She and the entire Reynolds clan, heartbroken in the face of rampant mistreatment and euthanizations of dogs in the area, have taken it upon themselves to fight the problem with everything they’ve got. Although tackling the many heads of that problem can certainly feel like a losing battle at times, the family fosters more than enough heart and spirit to keep on keeping on.
Amber’s Halfway Home follows its titular wife, mother, and savior to western Tennessee stray dogs as she rescues 19 such animals in a single day’s work. Through her journey, we observe the true breadth of her efforts, including shuttling dogs across multiple states in pursuit of their forever home. What’s most resonant about this among other stray dog stories is the genuine pathos of it all—even the kids are inspired by their mother’s efforts, and show no residence when it comes to getting their hands dirty in the family business.
That pathos is felt whether the news is good or bad. Parvovirus rears its ugly head again, its ubiquity in AniFab stray stories speaking to the pervasiveness of the issue; where there are strays, there’s parvo. The filmmakers ensure ample coverage of the day’s events, including the endearing young faces of puppies whose fate is beyond the viewers’ control—beyond even Amber’s.
Amber’s Halfway Home won the Audience Choice award at AniFab ‘21, owing in large part to the endearing quality of the film’s subjects—both human and canine. As the Reynolds family continues their work, and their film continues to make the rounds at festivals, there’s a real chance at changing attitudes towards thinking of dogs as property and receiving much-needed assistance to underserved animal communities in rural areas of the country. And hopefully they can save a few dogs along the way.