The annual EQUUS Film Festival this year takes place November 17-20 at the Village East Cinema in New York City. During this annual event, which showcases domestic and international feature films, documentaries and shorts, a host of WINNIE awards are given out in various categories. Then those winners are invited to travel with the EQUUS Film Festival for its WINNIE Winners Tour.
The first of three tours from the 2015 WINNIE Winners took place February 15-20 in Camden, SC, where 54 films were shown and filmmakers, artists, hosts and enthusiasts gathered for a number of special events. The hosts of the Camden event were Julianne Neal and Bruce Anderson, whose energies are often focused on the Marley Project, a Camden-based non-profit community service organization that provides funding and financial assistance for projects using Nature’s View programs, as well as funding for K-12 public educational groups. Part of their mission is to prove that horses are more important now than ever before for humans wellness and survival.
As is always the case, no event happens without its supporters and sponsors and so it was with the Camden WINNIE Winners Tour. A host of local supporters, family and friends helped create a memorable event.
The WINNIE Winners Tour nucleus is the films organized by EQUUS Film Festival founder, Lisa Diersen, who was in Camden representing EFF along with her associates, Suzanne Kopp-Moskow and Diana De Rosa.
While Diersen focused her energies on the 54 films being showcased in The Little Theatre, sponsor Kopp-Moskow zeroed in on her Li’l Herc Family Fest, a free morning for families that begins with two kid-focused and age appropriate films followed by free fun activities and gifts for the kids. This family friendly morning features artwork by Beatrice Bulteau.
As a professional photographer, De Rosa’s energies were focused on capturing the Camden activities in pictures and moderating three panel networking sessions. One of these panels focused on some of the filmmakers who were there discussing the challenges and impact of their films.
Those filmmakers included Neta Rhyne and Aku RoDriguez for their documentary, “Their Last Ride,” which is the final ride horses take to the slaughter auctions. Neta spoke about the many slaughter vans that pass her house each and every day and how that number has been reduced thanks to the efforts of this film. Aku spoke of the challenges he has had to face to get to the truth of this sad situation. “As a filmmaker (storyteller) we will always have challenges in creating the shot, vision, and story. That is the beautiful art and principle of this endeavor which makes a great film,” RoDriguez commented.
Also included were Durrell and Becky Nelson, filmmakers of “Texas Rein.” Also with them was one of the lead actors of the film, Don Hartman. Texas Rein is an all-American story that explores the family dynamic when a prodigal daughter returns home.
“Tribute” was represented by Monica Stevenson, a creative director/filmmaker/photographer for Monica Stevenson Photography/Motion. “My short film, Tribute, is a paean to an equestrian’s love for horses and dressage, through the words of Catherine Haddad-Staller, international dressage competitor. My career as a filmmaker is just blooming, and I am exploring the ways that film, words, and sound can communicate intense emotional response, as opposed to the art of still photography, which is a less layered medium.”
“The Edge” is a film being done by the Camden hosts, Neal and Anderson, and filmmakers James O’Connor and Dylan Quesnel of “The Art of Storytelling.” Its focus is on Anderson’s system of Natural Humanship. The concept is people helping horses and horses helping people. Through a lifetime of working with horses and people, Anderson has formulated a step-by-step process of how to deal with whatever situation you find yourself in with your horse.
The film will also include the time Anderson devoted to the training of Nunki and Mimi Rehor for the Wild Horses of Abaco project. Anderson traveled to the Bahamas three times over a period of three years to work with Nunki, the last horse in the line of Spanish Colonial Horses living on the preserve in the Abacos. Rehor’s and Nunki’s story was also a big part of this film festival.
In fact, one of the three panels was about Rehor, and the mare named Nunki, whose project is W.H.O.A. (Wild Horses Of Abaco Preservation Society) located in the Bahamas.
”We’re working to bring back the Abaco Spanish Colonial Horse (a rare sub breed of Spanish Colonials), which went extinct this past summer, using cloning which will be an equine world first,” explained Rehor. “Current efforts are aimed at convincing local government to okay the project, and fundraising.” Their film was called “The Eleventh Hour.” Sadly, Nunki, who died in July of 2015, was the last Abaco Spanish Colonial Horse, but because of their present cloning goals the breed may not be extinct for much longer.
A third panel was focused on the local community and included Donna Freyer of Custom Care Equine, and Fast Women. In addition to being a panelist, both of Freyer’s ventures were sponsors.
William Cox, President of the South Carolina Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, was also part of the local panel. SCTRF brings together inmates and horses to create a new life and a new direction for both the horse and the inmate. Their boilerplate phrase says it best. “Providing a place of hope and renewal for retired Thoroughbred horses and prison inmates through the Second Chances program…” And it is a well-known phrase by Winston Churchill that explains why. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
David Grant (aka The Pee Dee Cowboy), of ”Horse Tales TV” of Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors, focused on what it has taken him to succeed with his TV program, which is “a faith based, light-hearted, informative, entertaining equine show,” explained Grant. “The content of Horse Tales is as broad as the breeds of horses in the world and as varied as the folks who own and love them.”
Horse Tales is Grant’s vehicle to live the cowboy way and share with the world the stories of horses and the folks that love them. It is because of the horse that Grant’s life has stayed on course.
No project these days is going to happen without the support of people who believe in what you are doing and the following were some of the companies who were behind the Camden project:
- The Arnold Foundation (Arnold and Debiie Biscontini)
- Sensor Enterprises (George Sensor) Owners of the Camden McDonalds franchises. Sensor not only supported as a sponsor but his film, “Sunshine Numbers,” was shown.
- The City of Camden and Suzi Sale, the Economic/Tourism Development Director, helped the hosts work with the local businesses and services in town. Also, the Mayor, Tony Scully, proclaimed that week, EQUUS Film Festival Week.
- James and Rita Trivet, owners of the Little Theatre, where the films were shown, put a lot of restoration effort into the building. James was also the one who ran the projector.
- Clear Day Spa, owned by Roslyn Morrow Moore sponsored the Eat Well Live Well breakfast and volunteered throughout the event.
- 1029 Broad, owned by Brock Contracting Group, was where the Pop Up Gallery took place, thanks to the donation of their building.
- The National Steeplechase Museum was where the welcome reception was held, thanks to owner Catherine French. The entertainment was donated by Palmetto Nights Jazz Trio.
- Camden Hunt’s (the second oldest hunt in South Carolina) VIP Reception was a chance to mix and mingle with those who enjoy fox hunting.
- Rutledge Gallery owners Monica Laschanzky and Maci Scheuer hosted Saturday afternoon cocktails.
- The Fine Arts Center donated the space for two events on Arts and Film Day, as well as the panel discussions.
One of the most fun events of the week of activities (outside of watching the films and meeting so many horse enthusiasts) was the “Carriage Horse Tours of Camden,” which was a cool way to get to know the history of Camden.
For more information about the EQUUS Film Festival WINNIE Winners Tour Camden visit their website.