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.
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.