(Saffran’s film review appeared on Equine Info Exchange.)
Dark Horse won the World Cinema Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival 2015. The film is currently being screened in theaters around the US and a non-US format is offered on Amazon. It is beautifully made and is a joy to watch.
Dream Alliance is the name of a flashy chestnut Thoroughbred born in Cefn Fforest, South Wales, who is the subject of an absorbing documentary written and directed by Louise Osmond. London based Ms. Osmond told her producer that she wanted to do a film about a horse, and he gave her the task of doing a documentary about Dream Alliance, or Dream, his stable name. Ms. Osmond says that she relished the assignment. Cefn Fforest is a small town in an area of closed coal mines that had been operating in the 19th and 20th centuries. The mines had a troubled history of strikes, low wages, ill health, and finally closings. Less known, and not in the film, is that as many as 70,000 pit ponies, as well as donkeys and mules, were once stabled underground to haul coal. They only came out once per year for a festival. Reports on their treatment and survival rates vary greatly, with some equines lasting just several years. The four pits that surrounded Cefn Fforest closed between 1977 to 1989, which left the town with very little hope. I have seen mining towns in South Wales and noticed that they are bleak yet atmospheric, with a strange beauty. It is also an area where people feel the effects from hard labor and the lack of appreciation for it.