Nov. 15: Dark Horse
UNITED KINGDOM, 2015
English 85 minutes
With: Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies
A story of dreams, determination, and class consciousness set in the world of horse racing, this inspirational documentary from director Louise Osmond (Deep Water) follows a group of friends and neighbours in a small Welsh town who find themselves breaking social barriers by competing against some of the wealthiest racehorse owners in the UK.
In the beleaguered former coal town of Cefn Fforest, South Wales, a middle-aged barmaid named Jan Vokes rallies a syndi- cate of friends to pool their £10 per week towards breeding, raising, and training a racehorse they call Dream Alliance. Unexpectedly, Dream Alliance shows great promise, and the Welsh townsfolk are soon competing against the sport’s elite. Though their gamble is the furthest thing from a sure bet, and requires years of perseverance through a multitude of factors outside of the stakeholders’ control, for the team behind Dream Alliance it’s not all about money: in the words of one backer, “Dream took us to places you couldn’t even imagine.”
Osmond elicits warm and funny inter- views from the participants, particularly the plucky Vokes, who fondly recalls how she first pulled her underdog syndicate together back in 2000. Illustrating the team’s anecdotes through carefully chosen archival footage and artful re-enactments — with cinematographer Benjamin Kracun capturing the horses so beautifully you’ll want to reach out and touch them — this remarkable true story about a long shot is a sure winner.
A heartwarming true story that has been expertly crafted into an irresistible, emotion-charged documentary. —Allan Hunter, Screen International