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SIFF 2011 Movie Review: Buck

This is a documentary film about Buck Brannaman, a real life cowboy who runs training sessions around the country with people who want to improve their relationship with and control over their horses. Most people "know" him through the book and film�The Horse Whisperer, which was inspired in large part by his work and ended up with him assisting on the film both as a consultant and a double for Robert Redford. But this film is about so much more than simply a man who has a humane approach to training horses. At its core, it's about knowing who you are and being the person that you want to be. Coming from a brutal background, Buck was inspired by Ray Hunt to start to teach people ways to teach and train horses that eschewed the belief that you had to "break" them, a tradition of training that is both violent and cruel. Watching him work is like magic. He never actually 'whispers' to the horses; he treats them not like dumb animals but beings who are both smart and have emotions. He respects them, helps them get over their fears, and in doing so earns both their respect and attention in turn. But he's also a brutally honest man when he needs to be, though usually that stark honesty is brought to bear on the owners who have brought their own baggage into their relationship with the horses. For those who are a bit sensitive there is one part of the film that was a bit upsetting and difficult to watch - a problem child horse with a predilection toward violence - but even then it was amazing to see how he worked with the horse and confronted its owner. All in all a great film that is worth seeing even if you have no particular interest in horses. U.S. Distributor: Sundance Selects USA, 2011 (88 minutes) Directors: Cindy Meehl Cast: Buck Brannaman Awards: Sundance 2011 (U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award) Director Cindy Meehl and subject Buck Brannaman scheduled to attend. Festival Screenings: 7:00 PM Wed, June 8 SIFF Cinema 6:30 PM Thu, June 9 Kirkland Performance Center