Kathleen Francis of Clearlake and her Princess Abby, last year’s ‘World's Ugliest Dog’ contest champion. (Photo by Kent Porter, 2010.)

The legendary 'Sam'

“Worst in Show,” an hour-long documentary by two local filmmakers about the annual, wildly popular “World’s Ugliest Dog Contest” in Petaluma, will be shown at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St., Petaluma.

The film, made by Don Lewis of Petaluma and John Beck of Benicia, has been featured at the San Francisco Indie Fest and at the Kansas City Film Festival, where it was named best documentary.

“Worst in Show” follows the rivalry between the 2009 winner, Pabst, a boxer mutt with a serious underbite, and Rascal, the 2002 champ, leading up to last summer’s contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair.

And it profiles surprise challenger Princess Abby, a Chihuahua mix from Clear Lake.
The screening will be followed by a preview of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contestants and an appearance by the Petaluma Animal Shelter mobile animal rescue unit.

“The big surprise for us is the interest from animal rescue groups,” Beck said. “They love this film.”

Admision: $10 in advance; $15 at the door.

Information: www.worstinshowmovie.com.

Beck and Lewis previously collaborated on “Stringers,” a 10-minute documentary that follows video freelancers in San Francisco as they document crime scenes and sell the footage to TV stations. The film won the audience award for best documentary short at the 2006 Austin Film Festival.

Beck, a staff writer at The Press Democrat from 1998 to 2009, writes freelance articles about entertainment.