Review – Wildhorses

by shael stolberg

In recent years their has been a proliferation of “issue” docs or films that want you to care and/or act for a “cause” in which they care deeply. Whether or not we believe in the cause, nobody truly wants to feel lectured to even if its in their best interest. To Stephaine Martin’s credit she does not do this with her film WILDHORSES. The film takes place over one day and deals with the government sanctioned “round up” of wild horses into captivity and in many cases death.

As we all know storytelling is an art that can take many forms. When using the medium of film some of the most powerful stories have a larger visual than auditory component. That can definitely be said about this short film by Stephanie Martin. She does an amazing job telling her story. The cinematography (by the three time oscar winning cinematographer Robert Richardson) is breathtaking. It includes the visual splendour of a fashion shoot, the quite beauty of a bonding moment between “old friends” and the difficult task of capturing a herd of wild horses caught in a government sectioned “round up” by a helicopter.

That being said, the film ,as a whole, would not be as compelling without the strength of its actors, especially its lead, Mireille Enos. She is on screen for at least 90% of its 19 mins and perhaps says 10 words but, even thought, in the end she does sacrifice her freedom, the majority of her performance evokes the melancolic sense of resignation one might feel when all is lost and there is nothing left to do but to watch someone or thing disappear that you love.

In the end, its the actors job to honestly portray their character and the cinematographers job to capture the vision of the director. In the case of WILDHORSES the performances, vision of capturing them and vision of the film were all done with aplomb.

The film will screen again during the AFI FEST:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM at Chinese 5

For more info on the film click here

Shael Stolberg has previously written 3 books, moderated panels, gave seminars at film schools, hosted a film based radio show and ,for full disclosure, presently runs

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