The UK is the setting for the next entry in the World Cinema Documentary Competition: DARK HORSE, Louise Osmond’s tale of an improbable racing dream.
Sundance Program Description:
In early 2000, in a tiny village in one of the poorest mining valleys in Wales, Jan Vokes, the barmaid at the local men’s club, hatches a crazy plan to take on the “sport of kings” and breed a racehorse. She gathers together a group of locals who each agree to pitch in 10 pounds a week. They raise their foal on a hillside made of slag from the coal mine and nurture it to maturity. Reflecting their pride and flights of fancy, they name their horse Dream Alliance.
To the astonishment of the racing elite, Dream becomes an unlikely champion, beating the finest thoroughbreds in the land. Then, in one fateful race, the horse – which embodies the plucky band of misfits’ hopes and dreams – has a near-fatal accident. Nursed back to health through the love of his owners, Dream makes a remarkable recovery, returning to the track for a heart-pounding comeback.
Buoyantly crafted by filmmaker Louise Osmond, DARK HORSE is a life-affirming underdog story that will touch the hearts of anyone who has dared to dream.
Director Louise Osmond is best known for DEEP WATER, which screened at Telluride before going on to an Independent Lens broadcast, and was co-directed with fellow 2015 World Cinema Documentary Competition director Jerry Rothwell (HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD). She works here with producer Judith Dawson and executive producers Julian Ware, formerly of Darlow Smithson Productions; BFI Film Fund’s Lizzie Francke, whose Sundance credits include this year’s HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD and ’71, as well as UNMADE BEDS (2009), A COMPLETE HISTORY OF MY SEXUAL FAILURES (2008), DONKEY PUNCH (2008); Film4’s Anna Higgs, a Sundance alum with 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH (2014) and the short STEEL HOMES (2009); Channel 4’s Anna Miralis, who also executive produced SALMA (2013); and Film Agency Wales’ Adam Partridge.
Why You Should Watch:
Jan and her motley syndicate make for perfect subjects in Osmond’s eminently engaging look back at the legend of Dream Alliance, particularly because they are so unassuming. Their folksy charm attracts immediate audience attention, evoking the feeling of listening to tall tales from a bunch of friends at the local pub – only, in this case, their stories are wonderfully true.
For Osmond’s thoughts on her film, check out her Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.
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