Tag Archives: Alex Dawson

Wild Horse, Wild Ride

A hand reaches out, a wild mustang hesitates

The answer: “Wild Horse, Wild Ride.”

The question, which I am frequently asked by friends who know that I sit on the board of directors of BendFilm: What films do you recommend seeing?

With the annual four-day tribute to independent cinema beginning tomorrow at locations throughout Bend and Sisters, the questions are coming more often these days.  I did not serve on the festival selections committee this year, but I have seen a handful of festival movies.

One of them I found particularly memorable.

Alex Dawson

It’s a full-length documentary film, written and directed by Alex Dawson (same name, different person than last year’s actress-producer of “Clara’s Carma”), co-directed by her cinematographer husband, Greg Gricus.

Here’s the trailer: http://wildhorsewildride.com/trailer.html

“Wild Horse, Wild Ride” follows eight horse lovers from different parts of the United States — Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin and New Hampshire — who enter an event called the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge.

This annual competition gives 100 participants each 100 days to break and train a newly captured wild mustang, enabling the animal to be adopted outside of the wild-horse pens.

You’ll meet Charles and Carlos, a father and son from the Navajo Indian Reservation; Melissa, a biomedical graduate student at Texas A&M University; and Nik and Kris, home-schooled New Hampshire brothers with an intuitive training philosophy.

You’ll cheer for George, an aging Texas cowboy muddling his way through his seventh marriage; Jésus, a young construction worker who lives in Wisconsin but misses his father’s ranch in Mexico; and Wylene, the ultimate Texas cowgirl, a glamorous but tough-as-nails single mother.

The film climaxes at the end of the 100 days in Fort Worth, Texas, where the amateur handlers show their horses before putting them up for auction.  To keep the animals as their own, they must successfully bid against the public.

After more than three months of bonding with the mustangs, this is a heartbreaking moment for the trainers, many of whom are young and don’t have $2,000 or more, to spare in a bidding war.

Dawson’s story and Gricus’s brilliant photography — his past credits have included work on the National Geographic, Discovery, History and Travel channels — won’t leave many dry eyes in the house.

“Wild Horse, Wild Ride” won the Audience Choice award in the documentary category at the Dallas International Film Festival earlier this year, and it took home two awards at the Phoenix Film Festival.

The movie has been chosen to open the Sisters portion of the festival. It will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Sisters Movie House, along with an equally wonderful short called “Library of Dust.” It will be reprised in Sisters at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The only Bend showing of “Wild Horse, Wild Ride” will take place at 12:30 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, where it is paired with “Small Town Doc,” a 12-minute short filmed in La Pine.

Individual film tickets may be purchased online for $11 at www.bendfilm.org.  They are also available for $12 at BendFilm headquarters at The Hub (the old Liberty Theatre, 849 N.W. Wall St., Bend) up to 60 minutes before the start of a show.

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BendFilm Festival: Take Three

Fans of Tim Burton movies — and there are many of them — may recall the animated feature film “9,” which the dark fantasy master co-produced and released last year: on 9-9-09.

I wonder how many Burton fans realize that “9” was based upon a short film that won the 2005 BendFilm Festival award for best animated short, and subsequently was an Oscar nominee in the same category.

Produced and directed by Shane Acker, then a UCLA film student, the animated short (about a burlap doll struggling for survival in a post-apocalyptic world) captured Burton’s eye and was expanded into a full-length movie.

That may give you an idea of the regard with which BendFilm is held in the world of film making.

A wide selection of short films, animated and otherwise, again will be an important element in the 2010 BendFilm festival, which begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday (Oct. 7-10).

Don’t be surprised if this year’s animated sleeper is The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger, a six-minute short by Bill Plympton.

The legendary cartoonist, who was a featured speaker and presenter at last year’s festival, has produced a children’s fable about the meaning of life, the power of advertising and, ultimately, the test of a mother’s love.

A more serious production is Every War Has Two Losers, based upon the journals of William Stafford, the late Oregon poet laureate and a Second World War conscientious objector.

Clara’s Carma features prolific actor Stephen Tobolowky (Groundhog Day, Deadwood, Glee) as a frustrated therapist treating a young woman (Alex Dawson) who sees omens everywhere and suffers a spiritual meltdown.

The great Jonathan Winters, now 84 years old, co-wrote (with Dan Pasternack) The Babe & the Kid, a new take on the baseball legend about Babe Ruth’s promise to hit a home run for a critically ill child.

Movies will be presented at five different venues in Bend and Sisters.  Individual movie tickets are $10; a full film pass is $95.  Order online: http://www.bendfilm.org

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