Our American Rodeo

Our American Rodeo
A Documentary by Doug Hancock
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Project Information

About the project
LOCKLINEMeet the unseen Native American rodeos as we journey from the Utah deserts, through the badlands of South Dakota, to the rocky mountains of Montana.
The Story 


The rodeo is a metaphor for rural America. An arena where the kinetic explosions of bronc or bull energy are matched by the dance of riders feeling the mood and predicting the motion of the beasts they’re riding. 

Rodeos are performed throughout North America testing the skills of the riders and the stock of the breeders in local and national arenas. The rapid modernisation and mechanisation of farming are challenging the economic future of the horsemen and women in rural America. And so rodeo riders become the guardians of the old ways, preserving the skills which have supported communities in the past and which might offer an answer for the future.


The Film
 

In this feature-length documentary, we meet the unseen Native American rodeo riders who live in reservations across America. Following the trail of the horse, we start at the red deserts of Monument Valley and Bears Ears, traveling across the grassland plains of South Dakota on to the steep backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in Montana; the respective homes of the Navajo, Sioux and Blackfoot nations. 

The narrative is character-driven. We will feature portraits of three subjects from reservations in each of our three regions, each with their own distinct story - each with a different relationship to their heritage and identity. Through these interviews, our audience learns about the dreams that motivate them and obstacles that challenge them. Together, these indivdual stories will paint a picture of the life and times of the Native American, modern-day rodeo.

Access
 

Director Doug Hancock has rare access to the Native American communities across the US. During the making of his latest film Robert Mims - A Texan Bull Rider, which he wrote, shot and directed, he was welcomed into the hearts and homes of families of the rodeo tradition. 


Director's Motivation
 

I've been invited to understand Native American communities, whose rights to land ownership, healthcare and sustainable futures have been repeatedly ignored, whose voices have been misrepresented by successive governments and popular culture. I want to change that.

My role is to record testaments depicting people and communities with honesty, highlighting the challenges and achievements of rural Native America. This film will sweep away stereotypes to create an authentic account of what is going on today, the Native American sense of pride and their people's hopes and dreams for the future. 

Format 
 

The film’s look and feel will be defined by the people and natural wonder of their surroundings. Rich landscapes captured in the right fall of light will add peace to the film, providing a contrast to the kinetic energy of bull riding. The landscape will be filmed with panoramic lenses, while the rodeo will be filmed with more movement and a longer set of lenses. Time dedicated to recording high quality set sound to give the viewer an immersive experience. Watching this film, audiences will feel the landscape come alive.


Audience
 

This film is relevant for both US and international audiences. The US audience will be made up of Native American communities, rodeo supporters and people interested in Native American culture. The international audience will include people interested in both American culture and Native American culture.

This story will also resonate with a wider audience that engages with human stories outside of their immediate context. An audience interested in exploring our shared humanity. Our crew lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and we are proud to share our creative work with Dutch audiences. 

Your Contribution
 

The money raised will support the basic production costs for our small crew of four people. 
This will cover equipment, transport and travel over the 3.5 week shooting period in October, 2018. A substantial portion of any revenue earned following the film's release will be donated to the American Indian Film Institute

Supporting this film means giving a voice to the unseen Native American rodeo communites. We have already sourced a host of interesting people with stories to tell. With your help we can start production. 

 
Thank you.
 

Quote that inspired the maker

“For me it’s a lifelong duty to educate others about my people, there is so much wrong information out there about the indigenous people of this continent. I used to say Natives are the most stereotyped people in the world, I’ve heard a lot of crazy shit, I used to get mad when I was younger, today it’s a pleasure to inform.”
Jonas Rides At The Door - Blackfoot nation