Fast Horse: an Oscar Hopeful

Winner of the Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing at Sundance 2019: Alexandra Lazarowich presented Fast Horse, which won the Best Documentary Work Short Format award at imagineNATIVE in 2018, is now in the running for an Oscar.

For the first time in the Outstanding Production category, Sigrid Dyekjær scored two nominations, for “Aquarela” and “The Cave,” respectively. Theo Anthony, who was nominated in 2018 for his debut feature “Rat Film,” is one of six nominees up for Outstanding Nonfiction Short Film for ESPN’s “30 for 30” film “Subject to Review,” and is joined by Isa Roa’s “Crannog,” Bassam Tariq’s “Ghosts of Sugar Land,” Sandra Winther’s “Lowland Kids,” Shuhan Fan and Luther Clement’s “Stay Close,” and Alex Lazarowich’s “Fast Horse.”

Fast Horse follows the return of the Blackfoot bareback horse-racing tradition — a 400 year-old tradition — in a new form: the Indian Relay.

Siksika horseman Allison Red Crow struggles to build a team with second-hand races and a new jockey, Cody Big Tobacco, to take on the best riders at the Calgary Stampede.

Viewers are brought along to the middle of a race, and the film takes an intimate visit to a fascinating and little-known world of the dangerous and high-stakes game of Indian Relay — where jockeys ride horses bareback and jump from one horse to another.

In Blackfoot country, they call Indian Relay “North America’s original extreme sport.” Jockeys bareback gallop their horses around a track, jumping off one and on to another in a chaotic melee of horses and handlers at “the exchange”. Accidents happen. Simply finishing a race demands masterful skill and courage.

Siksika horseman Allison RedCrow dreams of bringing a team to the “greatest outdoor show on Earth” – the Calgary Stampede – so he and his people can show the world their unparalleled skill on horseback.

The cameras follow Allison and his new jockey, Cody BigTobacco, over the course of a year as they assemble a team of horses, train them for the relay race and finally make their debut at the Calgary Stampede. Their team, Old Sun, will face the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy, many of them veteran competitors from Montana.

Fast Horse puts the audience on the back of a galloping horse, an exhilarating POV experience that captures the thrill and risk of this white-knuckle sport.

With a heart-pumping climax, and with he cameras capturing the deep bonds created throughout the process, the experience of the final race at the Calgary Stampede from Cody’s own perspective shows just how unpredictable and dangerous the Indian Relay can be.

The vast majority of this year’s honourees for the Oscars are nominated for the first time including women filmmakers and craftspeople that comprise a record 40 percent of this year’s nominees, and make up five of this year’s six nominees for Outstanding Debut.

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