“Dark Horse” races to Star Hall’s big screen at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, and it’s likely to leave footprints on hearts and minds all over Moab, to boot.
The Grand County Public Library and the Utah Film Center are teaming up to present a free screening of the documentary, which won the Audience Award in World Cinema Documentary at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and the award for Best Documentary at the 2015 British Independent Film Awards.
Set in “Cefn Fforest,” an old mining town in South Wales, “Dark Horse” is an underdog tale that proves no matter who you are, if you dream it, you can do it.
The film centers on barkeeper Janet Vokes and her ragtag group of working-class heroes, who pull their limited resources together in order to buy a racehorse, aptly named Dream Alliance. Dream Alliance helps his owners find inspiration and empowerment in the world of horse racing, a “sport of kings” that is usually reserved for members of the elite.
Grand County Public Library Assistant Jessie Magleby said that “Dark Horse” was selected for its optimistic story line.
“The theme of commoners challenging the aristocracy through hard work and cooperation has met with positive (feedback) from our moviegoers in the past,” she said.
Utah Film Center Program Coordinator Davey Davis said he’s excited for Moab residents to view this film.
“Real stories are powerful,” Davis said. “Films that show normal people doing amazing or fascinating things, or that explain our complex world, will always have value. This film is a great example of the blend of documentary and dramatic films: The music, tasteful reenactments and cinematic shots make for a mesmerizing story. It launches you right in and proves anything is possible with a full heart, a good attitude and an inclination to buck convention.”
The film is composed of interviews with characters that are both entertaining and relatable.
“They’re all people you’d love to meet, but because they live in a small town halfway around the world, you may never get a chance,” Davis said. “It’s great to get a peek inside their lives.”
The film features Vokes, the barmaid who has the idea to breed a racehorse and makes it happen with the help of her colorful friends and neighbors.
“When he (Dream Alliance) is at a race I’m no longer Janet the Cleaner. I’m Janet the Owner,” she explains.
There’s also Brian “Daisy” Vokes, Janet’s toothless husband, who sings silly ditties to Janet throughout the film and a lazy-eyed part-owner of Dream Alliance who rips off his shirt in exultation during an exciting comeback.
Although you’ll meet other whimsical characters in the film, it is not entirely composed of heartwarming interviews from quirky Welsh townsfolk.
Dream Alliance has a tragic near-fatal accident and is nursed back to health through the love of the many people who have come to see him as not just a racehorse, but as a family member and a symbol of hope.
Does Dream Alliance come back in the end and win not only hearts but races too? You’ll have to find out for yourself.
Library, film center bring award-winning documentary to Star Hall on March 16
What: “Dark Horse”
When: Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
They’re all people you’d love to meet, but because they live in a small town halfway around the world, you may never get a chance … It’s great to get a peek inside their lives.
Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St. For more information, go to: www.utahfilmcenter.org/events/category/moab/upcoming/.