War Pony Unclassified 18+
Set on a Native American reservation and made in collaboration with the Oglala Lakota community, Riley Keough and Gina Gammell’s Cannes Caméra d’Or winner is a distinctive, powerfully uplifting story of culture and coming of age.
On South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, charismatic twentysomething Bill is a rudderless entrepreneur doing his best to stay afloat in order to win back his girlfriend and support his growing family. To raise some much-needed cash, he ventures into breeding poodles and takes work off-reservation with a local wealthy rancher. Meanwhile, sweet, bookish 12-year-old Matho is forced to grow up faster than he can handle when his father abandons him, leaving him to make his own way in life. The two youngsters’ paths barely cross, but we witness their parallel trajectories – sharing in their humour, hardships, aspirations and joys.
Keough (Zola, originally slated for MIFF 2021; The Girlfriend Experience) was struck by the idea for War Pony while on the set of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, where she bonded with Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, two young Pine Ridge men who were working as extras. Joined by Keough’s close friend and co-director Gina Gammell, the team developed the project across several years, working closely with the Oglala Lakota community from which the film’s stories are drawn. With hints of Gus Van Sant and Chloé Zhao’s The Rider (MIFF 2018), the result is a grippingly intimate tale of two spirited youths’ turbulent worlds.
“For all the hardships it catalogues, War Pony is never despairing – there’s a real pride at play here, and some pungent playfulness.” – Screen Daily
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