The subject of the management of wild horses remains a hot topic in mainstream media on both sides of the border. Here in Alberta, the provincial government’s decision to issue permits for the capture of 200 wild horses has triggered outrage and protests. In the past few days, Jann Arden added her voice and celebrity to the drive against the cull when she took to the skies with a local rancher and veterinarian to conduct her own count of the horses (the provincial government puts the population at just under 1,000, while opponents state this is an exaggerated figure).
Down south, the problem is magnified with over 32,000 wild horses roaming the rangeland, and upwards of 50,000 held in Bureau of Land and Management government holding facilities. The new film, American Mustang, examines this issue in what is described as “an artful blend of exquisite nature documentary and character-driven narrative.”
The film premiered last November to critical accolades at the Denver Film Festival, where one reviewer wrote, “His (Director Monty Miranda) breathtaking images, shot in 3-D on the open ranges of eight western states, bring us a deep appreciation for the life of the mustang running free and are juxtaposed by the Bureau of Land Management round-ups and the captivity that is often their heartbreaking reality.”
The film stars Luke and Jim Neubert, the sons of California-based cowboy and clinician Bryan Neubert, as well as Julia Putnam, Allison Eastwood (daughter of Clint), and is narrated by long-time mustang activist, Daryl Hannah. The film is the brainchild of its producer, Ellie Phipps Price, who wanted to create a film that would stir action by bringing the state of the American Mustang to the attention of the general public. Price does more than just wear the t-shirt – she has been an active and dedicated steward of wild horses for decades. In 2009, Ellie adopted 172 mustangs and has since created a sanctuary for wild horses on 2,000 acres of property in Northern California.