37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL Oct 30-Nov 3, 2024

37th Annual VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL October 30-November 3, 2024

Gala Screening

War Pony

warpony Play Button

Caméra D’Or, Cannes Film Festival 

War Pony follows two Oglala Lakota men as they come of age on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Bill is 23 years old and unemployed, so when the detained mother of one of his two children needs $400 for bail, he seeks creative ways to come up with the money, including a plan to breed poodles. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Matho seeks approval from his abusive father, moves between homes and becomes involved in extralegal ways of making ends meet.

As Bill and Matho hustle for money and yearn for love, they also grapple with identity, family and culture. Though trauma and socioeconomic need shadow the protagonists, War Pony balances the bleakness of their reality with a comic framing of its absurdity, belying a spirit of resilience and self-reflective humor that defines this tightly knit community. This remarkably touching and beautifully shot story of love and survival features actors from Pine Ridge, and is written by residents Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob, alongside writer co-directors Gina Gammell and Riley Keough.

“It has every right to be a furious tragedy. Instead, it’s a slacker comedy that swaps punchlines for laid-back, lived-in absurdities.”
-The New York Times
(Critics Pick), Amy Nicholson

Discussion with writer-directors Gina Gammell and Riley Keough. Moderated by Brian Truitt (USA Today).

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