I’ve lived in and around NYC for almost 20 years now and I’m a little sad to say I’ve never participated or attended any film festivals. I’ve thought long and hard about getting my butt to the Tribeca Festival, but never actually made it. Last Thursday, when I heard (last minute) about the Equus Film Festival at MIST in Harlem Friday and Saturday, I called in a last minute babysitter, grabbed my notebook and jumped on Metro North. Quite clearly, hours of horsey films take priority over a DeNiro (my favorite actor, by the way) sighting ;).
It took me a couple minutes to find MIST, but once inside I felt very much at home. Three theaters playing equestrian cinema, world-renowned artists and horse activists all convening to share a drink and a bite at the delicious bar of Madiba, and the 7 or so obligatory protesters (anti-horse and carriage types as there was one short film being screened that defended NYC’s horse carriages) out front all conspired to make a wonderful and entertaining evening. I had a bite to eat at the bar, and I realized that this was of the same Madiba of Fort Greene Brooklyn fame, right down the street from where my husband and I lived years ago. It was one of our favorite haunts, so I was happy to see them thriving. Not to mention, the food was amazing. My little hand meat pie and truffle fries were perfect, as was my husbands dish of Chicken Durban Bunny Chow (spicy curry-like dish served in a hollowed out organic bread loaf). DELISH.
Okay, so I grabbed another glass of South African chardonnay, and sat through some evening flicks. First, some shorts. A short about Dr. Maria Katsamanis, who specializes in classical horsemanship, then a quickie about the Festival of the Horse and Drum, which looks to be a fun event scheduled for next August 15th and 16th in St. Charles, Illinois. Sorry to report that the Asmar Equestrian (my regular readers know I love this brand) ad wasn’t aired at this point, but was seen on screens across the lobby and perhaps at another point in the festival. We then screened Free Rein, a glimpse into the life of a natural horsemanship trainer in Cananda named Jessica Fobert. She teaches us to listen to horses, and gives them a voice – they also happened to win the “Best Equestrian Series” award – congrats! Next was the talented and artistic Riders of McCrae Farm. Specializing in French Classical Dressage, movements are given by, not forced from, the horse. Not the best cinematography, but a great performance and fun to see.
The next film was a treat. Animaglyphes, a labor of love by director and creator Manolo Bez, creative mind behind the Theatre du Centaur along with his wife, Camille. The film takes us on a journey of animals and man, so that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. They bring together a collage of hundreds of people, sheep, horses and onlookers as they undertake an epic journey across many miles through the south of France, ultimately parading though the un-barricaded streets of Marseilles. A piece of art, his objective was to demonstrate the oneness of man and animal while capturing different points of view, the most striking being one of birds as they witness hundreds of sheep being herded behind a female “centaur” (actually Manolo’s wife riding standing up on anywhere between 1 and 3 horses). When I asked what were some of his largest challenges making the film, besides securing the necessary bureaucratic permits, the largest challenge was the massive amounts of animal and human waste and how it was to be controlled and kept clean. Poo above all. 😉
After this, I took a break to see what was happening in the lobby. I wasn’t disappointed as there were some protesters trying to cause a ruckus over the screening of a 10 minute movie named Save the Horse Carriages by Mary Haverstick (narrated by Liam Neeson). Eh, what’s a good event without some rabble rousers to bring in some media attention :)? I’m posting it here – reason for protest? I’ll let you decide.
Anyway, on the lighter side of life, I also met a wonderful artist named Beatrice Bulteau, who specializes in equestrian art and the celebration of movement and capturing the essence of the horse. She also happens to be the artist behind this year’s festival poster. As much as I wanted her beautiful watercolor mural (and everything else I saw), I only walked away with a signed festival poster and a beautiful iPhone 5 case. Hailing from Paris and now living in Portugal, Ms. Bulteau has been at her art for decades. I am sure that any piece of hers is a wise investment; tasteful art that will ad beauty and class to any room.
If I had more time and less children, I would have attended Saturday – all day. Alas, I had to call it quits after Friday. I’m anticipating next year, and will absolutely make time for the train ride back to the city to attend. Well worth it!