American Mustang

American Mustang

USA, 2013, 68 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Animals, Colorado, Documentary, Environmental
Programs: Special Presentation, Spotlight on Colorado, Women + Film
Language: English

Note: tickets for the November 10th screening at the Wildlife Experience are NOT Sold Out, but can be purchased by Clicking Here Vouchers and Promo Codes are not valid for the November 10th screening.


This impassioned documentary, presented in 3-D, examines the plight of wild horses in the American West while considering their place in the national psyche. Produced by regular festival guest Henry Ansbacher (Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides and They Killed Sister Dorothy, SDFF 31) and directed by Monty Miranda (Skills Like This, SDFF 30), it combines a historical overview and dramatic re-enactments with sweeping footage of its majestic four-legged protagonists.

America, the filmmakers argue, was built on the backs of horses. Once our primary mode of transportation, they remain the spirit animal of the automobile (think “horsepower”). Motion pictures had their origins in the zoetrope, an early version of which was produced for a wealthy equestrian to determine whether his steed’s hooves ever left the ground completely while running—and horses continued to star on screen in the Westerns that marked the golden age of Hollywood, including The Misfits. Meanwhile, at various points in U.S. history, their meat has been legally sold for consumption—whether by pets or humans.

Today, debates rage on surrounding the wild-horse population on our plains and prairies. On one side are ranchers and others who consider the herds a resource-depleting nuisance and therefore condone roundups as conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. On the other are conservationists and animal-rights activists who argue that the horses put minimal pressure on public lands compared with cattle (never mind humans), while charging the bureau with cruelty.

American Mustang makes the latter case through not only stunning shots of the beasts in their natural habitat, but also a narrative interlude involving a young woman on a quest to help protect them and a modern-day cowboy who shows us what it’s like to break a stallion by gently earning its trust. Music by Calexico and DeVotchKa augments the natural drama playing out in our own backyards.

In cooperation with The Wildlife Experience, East High School




For information on group rates and community partnerships please contact Dominic Smith at dominic@denverfilm.org

DIRECTOR: Monty Miranda
Producer: Henry Ansbacher, Ellie Phipps Price
Editor: David M. Blum, David Dodson
Cinematographer: Pablo Berron
Principal Cast: Daryl Hannah, Alison Eastwood, Julia Putnam, Jim Neubert, Luke Neubert

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