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Megan Leavey’ Tells Extraordinary Tale Of A Female Marine And Her Dog

Blackfish’ director Gabriela Cowperthwaite tackles tale of military K9 unit

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Bleeker Street

Megan Leavey (played by Kate Mara) partners with Rex in the military K9 unit deployed in Iraq in the new film "Megan Leavey."


Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 'Megan Leavey' director

Pete Shilaimon, 'Megan Leavey' producer

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter


DSW - "Indoctrinated" Short Film from Jim Ellis on Vimeo.

Megan Leavey is a U.S. Marine corporal veteran who worked with a military combat dog during her tour in Iraq. Her story is now the basis for the new film bearing her name and directed by "Blackfish's" Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

In her documentary "Blackfish," Cowperthwaite tackled issues about SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales in a very direct manner. But for this narrative film inspired by a true story of a woman finding purpose in life through her experiences with a military canine unit, Cowperthwaite takes a much less direct approach.

Megan Leavey is a U.S. Marine corporal veteran who worked with a bomb sniffing dog during her tour in Iraq. Her story is now the basis for the film opening Friday and bearing her name and directed by "Blackfish's" Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

The film "Megan Leavey" gives us a rare look at both women in the Marines and the K9 unit. But Cowperthwaite's approach is low key so that the heroics of both Leavey and her dog Rex play out as something that was just an everyday part of their job in Iraq and not like some Michael Bay action film.

Cowperthwaite had previously shot documentaries in Iraq and Afghanistan but had never come across the military K9 unit. So she was immediately attracted to Leavey's story. Plus it provided her with an opportunity to also explore what the female military experience is like. But she does not place that issue in the forefront because the real Leavey (as depicted in the film) did not enter the military to make a point about what women could achieve. Instead, her quiet dedication to working with Rex and performing her duties to the best of both their abilities eventually led to her breaking some gender barriers with her unit.

"Megan Leavey" opens Friday in select theaters.


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