Stray Dog

Stray Dog

November 09, 2015

by

Debra Granik

Behind the leather and chrome lives a man haunted by the brutality of war.

EXPLORE THE FILM

About the Documentary

From Debra Granik, director of the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone, comes this portrait of a motorcycle-riding, freedom-loving, Vietnam veteran cast in the mold of an outlaw biker. But there’s much more to burly, bearded Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall than meets the eye. Below the surface, Stray Dog is forever wrestling with the brutal legacy of the Vietnam War — a constant struggle of conscience, remorse, and forgiveness.

The film, shot with humility and grace, follows Stray Dog as he caravans on his Harley with fellow vets to pay tribute to their fallen brothers at the Vietnam Memorial. Meanwhile, back home in southern Missouri where he owns and operates an RV Park populated by a community on the margins, he forges a new life of domesticity with his Mexican wife Alicia.

Whether on the motorcycle trek or back home, Alicia goes along for the ride, navigating her own path through an unfamiliar world. As Stray Dog battles his demons and faces the pressure of running a business, the arrival of Alicia’s twin teenagers from Mexico further complicate matters. Stray Dog teaches the boys to be patient as they adjust to the quiet isolation of the hardscrabble Midwest, not to mention the meaning of certain American slang words their mother wouldn’t appreciate.

As Stray Dog strives to be the man he wants to be for his family and community, he continues to tally the cost of war, bearing witness to the soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan — both the dead and the living.

The Filmmakers

Debra Granik

Debra Granik started working in film and video in the Boston grassroots media movement in the late '80’s. She studied politics at Brandeis University and her first forays into operating a camera and collaborating on political documentation were with Boston-based media groups such as the Women’s Video Collective. While in Boston she had the good fortune to be able to take classes at Mass. College of Art, Studio for Interrelated Media, which exposed her to a great variety of film work and traditions. Granik shot and produced educational programs related to workplace health and safety issues for local trade unions and for the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety. She moved to NYC to attend New York University’s graduate film program, seeking a way to interrelate her interest in real-life experience and story structure, which she found in the film tradition of neo-realism, through a mentor at NYU.
At NYU, she made several short films, one of which, Snake Feed, garnered an award at Sundance, which led to involvement in the Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs. She expanded the story from Snake Feed into a longer script which formed the basis for the feature Down to the Bone, created with her producing partner, Anne Rosellini. Down to the Bone was awarded Best Director prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Her next film, Winter's Bone, was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Granik and co-writer Rosellini were Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Full Credits

Awards

  • Los Angeles Film Festival

    Best Documentary

  • Atlanta Film Festival

    2015 Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature

  • Twin Cities Film Festival

    Best Documentary

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Do veterans get the proper support in the USA? Does Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall defy your expectations for a Vietnam vet, let alone one who rides a motorcycle?

Comments

Connect with the Documentary