In November, I had the great privilege of attending this year’s third annual Equus Film Festival, in New York. It was a wonderful opportunity to see some familiar faces from last year’s festival, as well as meet many new, amazingly talented horse enthusiasts. There was a slightly more blissful feeling this time around, since last year I was sharing “Free Rein,” and this year I was just a casual movie goer with something in common with all who attended. I felt like the pressure was off, and Canada was still well represented with another beautiful documentary, directed by Stefan Morel, who also directed “Free Rein.”
There were many films and projects that were a joy to watch. I felt as though I was being educated and entertained all at the same time!
I was thrilled to meet Emma Massingale, whose project, “No Reins, No Rules, No Limits” won Best Mini Documentary. She does inspiring liberty work with her Connemara ponies. These little horses are obviously brave and happy to do anything for Emma, and her passion for working with them comes through clear in her film. I find it compelling how Emma considers herself an athlete, rather than an equestrian. The connection she has with her horses demonstrates teammates enjoying sport, rather than just demanding performance from her horses. I am looking forward to her upcoming projects. You can watch Emma’s work here on YouTube.
Then there was Elsa Sinclair. Elsa produced her own film, a documentary covering one year of a developing relationship with a wild Mustang that she adopted. In her own words, “This all started with a question. A question I found burning inside of me for an answer. What if horses were given a choice? Would they let us ride them? Without force or tools to control, and without bribes to lure them?” Elsa’s story brought tears to my eyes, as she worked tirelessly to win her mare’s trust and loyalty. In the few moments I had to speak with her I essentially felt like I was looking at a new mentor – setting the bar higher for myself to continue my life’s journey in learning better ways to connect with horses. Find out more about Elsa’s project here.
Canada was well represented for the second year in a row:
Last year Stefan Morel brought home the Best Television Series award for “Free Rein.” This year he was at the top again; bringing home Best International Documentary with his beautiful film “Blind Spot – Moments Unseen.” This story consisted of three blind people who were led on a voyage on horseback, crossing the Andes of Argentina during a 10-day trek. The stunning footage of breathtaking views will never be “seen” by the riders, but I really feel as though they experienced more during their trip than most sighted people can. Stefan did a wonderful job capturing blissful and meaningful moments as the riders all endured the wild landscapes.
Check out Stefan’s award winner this year here.
And our project winner from last year here.
There were many other great films that attended the Equus Film Festival. I would strongly recommend that every horse enthusiast check out this Festival for themselves. It is growing every year and is making its own mark in Manhattan. Our world-wide love for the horse is being showcased in one great space amongst artists, filmmakers and horse lovers alike.