News Column

More 'Susie's Hope' screenings in the works

April 29, 2013


April 29--GREENSBORO -- On the heels of its sold-out premiere at RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, "Susie's Hope" will go to another film festival in Wilmington next month.

Meanwhile, producers are working to arrange early summer screenings in Greensboro and other North Carolina cities. No locations or dates have been set, marketing director Allison Hunt said.

The feature film tells the story of Susie, the burned and beaten mixed-breed pit bull puppy found in a Greensboro park in 2009, and Donna Lawrence, the woman who adopted her.

The story spurred efforts to increase the state's criminal penalties for animal abuse. Gov. Bev Perdue signed Susie's Law in 2010, making animal abuse a Class H felony.

"Susie's Hope," produced by Stone's Throw Films and Altair Casting & Production Services of Winston-Salem, premiered in three sold-out screenings at RiverRun earlier this month.

Lawrence and producer Laura Hart McKinny of Stone's Throw saw how the film affected audiences.

"To a person, they were moved by the story and by the film itself because they had seen something that was authentic and life-affirming," McKinny said.

Before seeing the film, many viewers didn't know her side of the story well, Lawrence said.

In 2008, Lawrence survived a vicious pit bull attack near her High Point home. Together, she and Susie learned to heal and forgive. Lawrence, who owns a Greensboro hair salon, formed a nonprofit to foster awareness of animal abuse.

"It made it more powerful to see me conquer my fear of dogs, adopt a dog that was part pit bull and turn the tragedy into triumph," Lawrence said.

On May 12, "Susie's Hope" will be shown at the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival in Wilmington. At the festival, the film is nominated for best family film and best feature film, Hunt said. Lawrence, her husband, Roy, and Susie plan to attend.

Beyond plans to screen the film in Greensboro and other North Carolina theaters, producers are talking with agents about distribution beyond the state -- in theaters, through DVDs and in other countries, McKinny said.

"I want to get it out there as widespread as I can because it will make a difference for animals," Lawrence said.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 373-5204, and follow @dawndkane on Twitter.


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