THE EQUUS Film Festival Maryland Tour Stop
The EQUUS Film Festival tour stop in Maryland, May 12-14, featured three-days of 19 fast-paced, heart-stopping and educational short and full-length feature horse films from five countries.
Some of those attending were surprised by what they learned because many of the films gave them a glimpse into the history surrounding horses they never knew about. Others were moved by the numerous inspirational stories. There were even those that brought tears to their eyes either because of the theme of the movie or the reality of what some horses have had to do to survive.
Enjoying the Films
Enjoying the Films at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Maryland Industry Association hosted the tour stop and the board chose Martha Clark's Elioak Farm as its rustic location to display the films in a quaint indoor building that was converted into a cozy theater.
The Farm is a certified Maryland Horse Discovery Center that is always alive with activity. While outside, you could hear the chatter of families and young kids visiting the Enchanted Forest, Mother Goose, Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, and Jack in the Beanstalk, inside others took pleasure in watching a variety of horse movies. Elioak Farm also has pony and hay rides, a petting zoo and provides the perfect setting for fun birthday parties.
Some of the Feature Films
The selection of films ranged the gamut from those focused on polo, racing, dressage and western, to documentaries about natural horsemanship, horses in the arts, horse rescues and how horses help people heal.
Among the selection were:
Albion the Enchanted Stallion is a perfect family feature film that gave you the feeling that you were watching a Disney-like movie, complete with a creative, imaginative and fun storyline and a star-studded cast. Among the many talented cast members was Debra Messing (from the NBC sitcom Will & Grace), who played the Queen.
The Backyard Racehorse is a delightful 23-minute documentary hosted by author Janet Del Castillo and her son. The film zeroed in on tips to train your racehorse right in your own backyard and was mirrored after her book by the same name.
One of Many Tour Stops
While the EQUUS Film Festival hosts its annual event in November in New York City, throughout the year it continues to bring many of the WINNIE Award winning films to locations around the United States and abroad.
This year’s kick-off event was held in Camden, SC in February and not only included films at the local Little Theater but also carriage rides, a tasting walk around town, interviews by the local media and historical tours around the local community. At all the events you also got a chance to meet the filmmakers, authors and artists who were in attendance.
In Maryland, EQUUS Film Festival Camden producer Julianne Neal was there along with trainer Bruce Anderson for their film, The Edge, - Bruce Anderson Natural Humanship, winner of the Equestrian Environmental Awareness Film WINNIE Award. This movie was a look into how horses and humans unite under one umbrella to help each other. The cinematography of this film is very impressive and is just one more example of the quality of films shown at the annual EQUUS Film Festival.
Anderson spoke after his film was shown and noted,
“When I started I thought the horse was the problem, but I soon realized that I was the problem. However, what I soon discovered was that it’s not your problem; it is the pressure created by your upbringing and the world around you. This method of Natural Humanship(TM) helps you discover what the real problems are between you and your horse. The horse becomes a metaphor for life, and in helping the horse to help itself you are able to see your own habits and start the process of making changes and becoming more balanced."
Christmas Ranch – A Fun Family Film
Also present was Doug Maddox, producer of Christmas Ranch, Best of Festival – Family WINNIE Award winner, which was a feel good film about hope and second chances. The story is about a strong-willed girl who is sent to stay with her grandmother on her horse ranch for Christmas. She begins to care for her grandmother’s pony and becomes determined to help save the ranch from foreclosure.
“When I made Christmas Ranch I was specifically looking for a film to do with horses because Maryland is a huge horse loving state. It was my first movie with the horse as the star. Hope was the name of the horse. So, the name goes along with the concept of hope brings greater things,” commented the Maryland resident.
Maddox found out about the EQUUS Film Festival, from Ross Peddicord, who organized the Maryland tour stop. “Connecting with Lisa Diersen, founder, and Diana De Rosa, co-organizer, exposed me, my family and the film to a wonderful community. It is so important to put together a network of people.
“I haven’t seen anything like the EQUUS Film Festival. Not only does it highlight equine films, but also books and the arts. Also, because it’s international we won the Touch of Class Award from the Governor of Maryland at our premier last December.”
The EQUUS Film Festival Maryland Tour Stop featured a Nice Variety of Films
While all of the films mentioned so far were longer feature films, shorter fun or informative films were shown before and after, so that those attending could watch a two hour block of horse films.
A special thank you goes to those who helped sponsor this annual Maryland Tour Stop, including Howard County Tourism, Clark’s Elioak Farm, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, the veterinary practice of Dr. Michael Odian, DBM Productions of Towson, and filmmaker Doug Maddox.
Each November, the EQUUS Film Festival showcases over 100 horse-themed films from around the world at its annual New York City event. WINNIE Award winners from past festivals continue to be showcased at various tour stops throughout select U.S. and foreign cities. After the Camden, SC, tour stop in February, the EQUUS Film Festival had its first debut at a World Cup (the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska), before heading to Maryland.
The EQUUS Film Festival began just five short years ago with one goal in mind. Diersen wanted to provide a place for the storytellers of the horse world to show their films. Because of its success the next step will be providing a platform where these horse films can be shown so that anyone in the world can have access to not only seeing these films but learn more about the horse’s journey over time.