Arts & Equitainment: Equus Film Festival NYC

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The intersection of horses and film can be a funny one for equestrians. On the one hand we love to see our horse heroes come to life on the silver screen. Names like Seabiscuit, Scretariat, and Black Beauty spring to mind. On the other hand, the moment a director or actor takes hold of a horse, he or she is opened up to the ire of the equestrian community.

“That equitation was awful!”

“A real horse would never do that.”

Or my personal favorite: “Do they actually think we won’t notice they used at least three very different horses to flesh out this role?”

Official Poster of the Equus Film Festival with illustration by Beatrice Bulteau via Facebook

Is there a way around this conflict? Perhaps there is! Enter the Equus Film Festival. This two-day film festival is coming to New York City on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd to place a spotlight on “the immense creative diversity, scale, and depth of the global equestrian community,” says festival creator and Equus Global, LLC partner Lisa Diersen. Actual equestrians in control of the presentation of horses on film – what a concept!

The festival will feature more than 50 films and creative works running across three separate screens at MIST Harlem. The topics range from lighthearted family dramas, music videos and commercials, to documentaries tackling some of the most serious issues facing the equestrian community today.

According to Sarah Chase, Chief Business Officer of Equus Film Festival partner Horse Lifestyle Media, “These are films that deal directly with today’s most sensitive and sensational issues. From horse-assisted therapy, to the Bureau of Land Management’s treatment of the wild mustang, and even the horse carriages here in New York, the Equus Film Festival is bringing to the forefront those filmmakers who have rolled up their sleeves to dive deep into the tough issues. Through these films and creative works, people can start to formulate a more reasoned understanding of what these issues are really about.”

Horse & Rider – A Journey Towards Freedom – Official Selection of the Equus Film Festival via Facebook

Which brings me to my final point about the upcoming Equus Film Festival. While it’s truly wonderful that this festival will give equestrians the opportunity to see horses portrayed with the knowledge and sensitivity, the scope of this event can and should be much broader. This isn’t a film festival about horse people for horse people. As Chase alluded, these films have the opportunity introduce and educate all people about the equestrian lifestyle, and that is some outreach that is badly needed.

And one final plea: If you want to reach the greater film community, please don’t call Equus Film Festival “Like Sundance, But With Horses.” Sundance is a film festival started in large part by the avid equestrian, friend of Buck Brannaman (and actor) Robert Redford, and is actually named after his most famous cowboy role, Butch Sundance. In 2011, a documentary about Brannaman called Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl, won the U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award. So Sundance is not exactly a film festival ‘without’ horses. Equus just takes it to the next level!

Tickets to the Equus Film Festival are on sale now via the festival website. So, go grab one for yourself and few for your non-equestrian friends. Then join the festival community on Facebook and Twitter!

Website: Equus Film Festival

Facebook: EquusFilmFestivalNYC

Twitter: @EquusFilmFest #EFFNYC

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