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Sundance 2011: Can the documentary 'Buck' pull a 'Blind Side'?

January 24, 2011 |  4:00 am


Is it possible that a documentary film could cross enough cultural, geographic and demographic lines to become a mainstream phenomenon, without a political agenda or shock value? That's the question L.A. Times film critic Betsy Sharkey is asking at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

If ever a documentary had that everyman potential, she says, it is "Buck," a film with a sensibility like "The Blind Side" that some might underestimate for its plainspoken power.

A quintessential up-by-the-bootstraps story about a man who actually wears boots that have straps, "Buck" is the tale of a charismatic real-life horse whisperer, an earthy, soft-spoken philosopher who can tame troubled souls, be they man or beast. According to Sharkey, he's the kind of unsung hero that America loves to love. Read more here, and check back in the coming days for an interview with Buck Brannaman.

Photo: A scene from "Buck." Credit: Cindy Meehl


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I haven't seen "Buck" the documentary, but I have ridden in a couple of Buck's clinics and had the pleasure of watching Buck and others in the Ray Hunt Memorial Clinic.

Buck helped me and my young horse when I thought my horse was going to break me. I now trust my horse to carry me anywhere and over any obstacle. and he trusts me. Buck Brannaman has a way with words and a remarkable presence with horses. He has a way of smiling at you when you think the world is crashing down around you and your horse, and lets you know that you are making a difference. He doesn't seek the limelight and is truly in it for the horse (and their people). I hope this documentary helps horses and people as Buck would have intended.

I haven't seen "Buck" the documentary, but I have attended a few of his clinics and can attest by my observations that he is truly doing what he does for the horse.
He helped me and my horse when I thought my horse was going to break me. In April of 2009, I was at one of his clinics in Arizona and my horse was screaming and creating a scene. I was crumbling inside (worried about the disruption my horse was causing to the class), but Buck encouraged me to "support" him, explaining that my horse was insecure and my frustration wasn't helping matters. I crossed a bridge that weekend with my horse. Buck's words ride with me today.
Buck has helped so many people, trainers and countless "faraway horses". It's about time his story is told (and not under the guise of Tom Booker in "The Horse Whisperer"). He gives credit where credit is due, and appears to me to be without ego....


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