An international group of equine and equestrian filmmakers, trainers, wilderness, and horse enthusiasts from all disciplines will gather in Missoula September 18-20, to watch the world’s best horse films and to talk horses and other equines. But you don’t need to be a horse owner to enjoy or participate. Filmmakers and equine specialists from around the world and across the U.S. will be on hand to focus attention on a range of topics and issues, with an equine theme. Their destination will be the EQUUS International Film Festival & Conference, a premier venue for equine and equestrian films, with a message, a mission, or simply sharing great stories on the big screen. In addition to breathtaking films with broad messages, many of the Official Selections will be regional, U.S. or world premiers. Many filmmakers and equestrian experts will also be part of the three-day event.
The mission of this new film festival and conference is “education and understanding to enhance the equine/human bond & to improve the welfare of the horse and other equines through film, television and other media.” EIFF is an outreach and education project of an equine rescue and adoption organization with a goal of raising awareness. Organizers say they hope that by increasing our understanding of equine issues, communications, and training, as well as understanding the role of the horse in our lives, the bond between equine and human will be enhanced. It is also a celebration of all things equine.
The EQUUS International Film Festival celebrates the horse, the filmmakers who tell their stories, and educates in the “ways of the horse.” According to founder Janet Rose, “The horse has been integral to cultures all over the world, to our social histories, in every society, and even, to the development of nations. EIFF hopes to capture that diversity and importance.” Rose adds that a primary theme running through this year’s film festival will be the role of the horse in Native American life, culture and history. The film festival this year is co-sponsored by Native American Studies of the University of Montana. The Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Vernon Finley, will give the welcome on behalf of Montana’s tribal nations to the start of the film festival in the atrium of The Payne Family Native American Center.
Friday, September 18 will focus on films about horses in Native American life with some incredible stories. In addition to the Native American focus, the festival and conference will feature films on many issues including the controversy over wild horses on federal lands; horses as therapy animals for war veterans as the physically and mentally challenged. There are breathtaking films about horses in wilderness, such as “Untrammeled,” the quintessential wilderness film, as well as films on unique training programs, performance and cultural topics. “The stories,” Rose adds, “and the range of films featured, are far reaching and cinematically stunning. The films are beautiful, inspiring, and heart warming. There will be tears, laughter and moments of holding your breath. The quality of the films entered this year was amazing.”
The three days of film screenings and special presentations will be held in two venues at the University of Montana including The Payne Family Native American Center and the University Center Theater. A Welcome Reception, sponsored by Ride TV, will be hosted at the Dana Gallery Friday, September 18, opening day of EIFF. A filmmaker reception Saturday evening at the UC theater, follows several of the top films, including “Running Wild,” “Unbranded,” “Horses That Heal,” and “The Equestrian,” all finalists for best cinematography and Best of Category. Sunday, September 20, the Awards Ceremony announcing Best Of will be held at the UC Theater, emceed by former president of the Dude Ranch Association and well-known horseman, Robert Foster. For more information, a schedule, or to reserve tickets, visit http://www.equusinternationalfilmfestival.com
Next we’ll roll out the red trail (carpet), when the festival gets underway this September in one of the most beautiful parts of Montana. September 18-20, audiences will be treated to three full days of screenings, panels, speakers, hard hitting and controversial issues and stories of survival and innovation as well as social events and networking in the beautiful setting of this historic and charming town known as Missoula. Missoula is in the heart of the Northern Rockies and if ever there was a perfect setting for an equine film festival, Missoula is it. In fact, people often joke that that there are more horses and cows in Montana than there are people and I think that’s true.
One of the top sessions this year for EIFF is be The Role of the Horse in Native American Life, Culture and History — a fitting theme for the first full-on equine film festival in the world. The horse literally changed the course of history for Native Americans and all of North America and several films that delve into this in deeply moving ways. The horse was an “enabler,” a way for people of the first nation to acquire food, land, to defend their homes and to go into battle when they had to. The horse through the centuries has been a driving force for many cultures and societies and we anticipate that many of the films will focus on this.
Another topic that we know will be front and center of EIFF is the wild horse issue and the related controversy of horse slaughter. Most audiences know very little about what happens to horses that are unwanted, homeless, abandoned or given up when they are not adopted and taken off to “the auction.” Many people don’t know what happens when wild horses are culled from the American west on the premise that public lands can’t support their numbers. What happens is, thousands of equines wind up at the livestock auction where individuals known as canners, bid anywhere from a couple of dollars to a few hundred dollars for the horse sold at auction. The horse is then shipped off to Canada or Mexico box-car style, crammed in, often crushing up again others frightened and starved where they face a gruesome end, being slaughtered for meat. Whatever you think about horsemeat, the process of shipment and slaughter is often inhumane and certainly controversial and when you realize that most of the horses sent to slaughter were once somebody’s pet or show animal, or racehorse or livelihood; many would call it a grim ending to the life of a magnificent creature.
EIFF was established in the hopes of being a leading voice for education, awareness and celebrating this iconic creature. EIFF gets messages out, information shared, that we can improve the welfare of horses worldwide by exposing the issues and having filmmakers tell their stories. The mission of EIFF is education and understanding to enhance the equine/human bond and to improve the welfare of the horse and other equines through, film, television and other media. This is the foundation of the EQUUS International Film Festival® and the driving force behind this event. EIFF showcases the hearts and souls of the thousands of individuals who live and dedicate their lives to horses, who work, train, use, and love the world of equines.
Right now we’re calling for film entries and we welcome sponsors and partners to help support this event. Sponsors and partners can help us promote, advance and enhance the EQUUS International Film Festival® – a film event, a conference, and a gathering of equine enthusiasts, equine advocates and equine storytellers. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.