While there are carriage horses in New York City, the Equus Film Festival was a horse of a different scene, literally that is. And it wasn’t one horse. It was many horses, lots of breeds, a variety of disciplines and in all shapes and sizes. But while they were real horses, they weren’t the type you could pet. Well at least not where they were being featured at the Mist Harlem Theatre.
In fact, these horses were on three different screens and their stories were told by endless people and focused on a variety of topics. In the 119 chosen films, there were long and short documentaries, music videos, commercials, trailers, works of art and more, all shown over two days, November 21-22, in one venue.
And the topics. Well, some just kept clip clopping along while others went racing by at a gallop, sometimes saddled up and other times free. The collection of films was so vast that it’s impossible to tell about all the wonderful stories that were told.
One music video was simply a song called Believe, Believe, Believe sung by Tiffany MacNeil, whose eyes sparkled when she spoke about the horses and the event. “I thought the festival was a rousing success,” mused Tiffany. “Lisa Diersen, the inspiration behind the festival, and Sarah Chase produced a professional and spirited event.”
For Tiffany, this was a not to be missed opportunity to have the chance to “interact with creative people all over the world, each touched by horses in some way to tell their story.”
And what were those stories? Save Wild Horses was exactly what the title indicates about the free and wild running horses. Save NYC Horse Carriages focused on not losing New York City’s iconic horse-drawn carriages. The Strong Women Wild Horses trailer was written to inspire people to care about horses.
Warrior Camp was about a soldier who came back while the rest of his battalion did not and how horses helped him survive that. “When I think of how some are spared and some lost their lives, there but for the grace of God go I,” was one quote mentioned a few times throughout this film.
In fact, profound quotes were filtered everywhere throughout the theatre. They were on the screens, by the booths and spoken by some of the artists. On the front of the Warrior Camp table was Winston Churchill’s quote, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Another booth encouraged people to vote to pass the SAFE Act about not wanting our horses slaughtered. Noah Publishing’s booth said, “Never Say Neigh,” on one of their posters. And the New York State Horse Council’s booth encouraged everyone to unite for the preservation and future of our horses.
Some of the booths went beyond the horse world to reach the palate as many enjoyed Muchacha’s variety of salsas, gluten free and used to “cook, bake and marinade,” the poster revealed. There was also artwork to enjoy at the Four White Socks (the Official Merchandiser) souvenir booth done by Beatrice Bulteau and a chance to relax at the bar or enjoy dinner in the restaurant, all right there in the lounge area of the theatre.
The awards ceremony culminated this event with 14 films presented with awards and sponsors, such as Kogeto – 360′ Camera, Blackburn Equestrian Architecture and Planning, Manhattan Saddlery, Noel Asmar Equestrian and Sugar Bee Catering, there to give them out as follows:
Equestrian Music Video: Song For Hawk – directed by Suzanne Mitchell – musical artist – Steve Poltz (Steve won because of his ability to tell the story in a beautiful and artistic way.): This song was written as a tribute to Dayton O. Hyde, who was known by his close friends as Hawk, and who dedicated his life to saving wild horses.
Equestrian Commercial: Vinnie – No Dream Is Too Big – directed by Felix Herngren and Bill Schumacher (They won because of their creative use of this Miniature Horse to capture the attention of the viewer.): A cute and fun story about, Miniature Horse Uffe (screen name Vinnie) whose desire is to become a racing horse and the audience gets to follow him as he reaches for his dream.
Equestrian Series: Free Rein – directed by Stefan Morel (This film earned the award because of its profound ability to convey a message about the everyday horse.): The images alone help convey the meaning of this film, which is a journey of horse rescue and the connection between horses and humans.
Equestrian Native American: Horse Tribe – directed by Janet Kern (Amazing documented content told in a clear and concise way gave this film the award.): This was about the demise and rise of the Nez Perce Tribe and its present new breed of horse.
Equestrian Short Documentary: Tarpan – directed by Jen Miller and Sophie Dia Pegrum (Tarpan won this award because of an amazing tale woven within a well done story line.): This film is focused on the Tarpan pure breed that is extinct but the film shows what has been done to bring a new and similar breed back into existence and into the wild.
Equestrian Documentary: Return Of The Horse – directed by Sharon Eliashar and Leo Hubbard (This film’s ability to raise questions about the true origin of the horse was why it won this award.): This documentary focuses on the Mustang, which is considered to be the oldest native wildlife species of North America and different from the often documented history of the horse.
Equestrian Short Art Film: The Nap – directed by Jynne (Awarded the Equestrian Short Art Film Award for its simple and beautiful presentation.): As the mares come in for their afternoon lunch, their foals fold themselves into the beds of straw and drift off into their naps.
Equestrian Art Film: En Lusitanie – created and directed by Beatrice Bulteau (An amazing use of animation was the reason this film won.): This animated short film brings life to the Lusitano breed of horses.
Equestrian Film: Running Wild – The Life Of Dayton O. Hyde – directed by Suzanne Mitchell (A clear winner because the inspiration it gave about what one man did to save horses.): A story about a man whose life was devoted to saving wild horses.
Equestrian Director: Camilled Manolo – Animaglyphes (This amazingly directed film was a clear winner in how the director captured its essence and created a beautiful piece of work.): This foreign film showcases the relationship between horses and nature as the filmmaker captures the journey of thousands of horses and follows their movement across France.
Equestrian International Film: Hastdans pa Hovdala – Directed by David Fishel and The Equus Projects (This film won because it helped to give the audience the feeling that they were part of the film.): A film focusing on the connection of dancers with horses which was shot in Sweden.
Equestrian International Documentary: Horses Of Fukushima – Directed by Matsubayashi Yoju (This film won because of its ability to reveal the hard truth and keep the viewer compelled to watch how things unfolded.): This documentary talks about the Tsunami in Japan and how a group of horses were saved despite the nuclear contamination they endured.
People’s Choice: D`Artagnan Is The Champion – directed by Melissa Palmer, Jennifer Bates, and Drew Sawyer (This film won because of the unique approach the director took to telling this story, which made watching it fun.): This film is about a horse once called Daddy O, who with the guidance of his rider Leah has been successfully competing in dressage and it is told in a fun and unique way.
Best of Festival: Riding My Way Back – directed by Peter Rosenbaum and Robin Fryday (The intensity of this story along with the revelation of the profound affect a horse can have on a human was what won the award for this film.): A heartwarming story about a soldier who came back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered severe depression but with the help of a horse named Fred he regained his will to live.
Perhaps it was Tiffany that capsuled the concept behind the festival when she commented, “I feel this can help the visibility of horses, especially in the U.S., because it affords the opportunity for a glimpse into such a wide variety of horse-related and horse-inspired content.
“Those drawn to horses often work in one specific area, or have a certain formed idea of what they think horses may be. A festival like this one shows the vast influence of horses in so many ways: the Native American culture, inner-city, dressage and rescue, to name a few – and the festival atmosphere allows for discussion between participants and filmmakers – which then leads to a deeper understanding, creative partnerships and action.”
In fact, one of those “partnerships” was shaped to create the Equus Film Festival by a phone call from Sarah to Lisa suggesting just that. Lisa formed Equus Global when she partnered with Horse Lifestyle because it just made sense. This is a company that not only focuses on the development and distribution of media content, but that also has its own streaming service.
CEO Vanessa Somers, commented, “We are proud to welcome the films to their new stable at HorseLifestyle.tv, where they can be enjoyed by the rest of the world.”
“I’ve just let this all happen,” Lisa commented. “I believe that the universe and the horse decide how it is going to come and educate people on what its next mission is in the world. The world started with the horse and now we are continuing its journey with our Equus Film Festival.”
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