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On Your Radar: BUCK
by Karen Pecota

The widely revered horse gentler, Buck Brannaman, is the real live cowboy who inspired the novel and film The Horse Whisperer. Filmmaker Cindy Meehl features this remarkable man in her latest documentary BUCK. Meehl met Brannaman some years ago at a horse clinic she attended. Buck was the featured instructor. In awe of his teaching style, Meehl recalls her first impression, “He possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses – and people – with his deep understanding, compassion and respect”. How many times have we been told that first impressions are extremely important? It was this fact that compelled Meehl to tell Buck Brannaman’s story on the big screen. In keeping with Robert Redford’s message for storytelling and describing his passion for the art of the documentary, Meehl goes after the story of a master craftsman cowboy. Redford’s message will emphatically stress that there are stories to be told. He urges the filmmaker to first of all grab onto a compelling story or a story in which they are passionate; then, get the story right and finally, tell it well. Give the story justice in the writing, directing and production. Meehl completely heeds Redford’s advice and directs one of the most entertaining documentaries I have ever seen. In fact, she founded Cedar Creek Productions, LLC in 2008 in order to make this film. Meehl notes, “His (Buck’s) horsemanship and skills are exceptional, and once she learned about Buck’s life, she was inspired to make her first documentary to tell his story and share his unique approach to horses and people”. Buck Brannaman is the co-author of two books, Faraway Horses and Believe.

Buck Brennaman, a renowned cowboy and master horse gentler, is on the road several weeks out of the year, throughout the US and abroad, leading horse clinics. His training clinics are sometimes more for the person with the horse as it is training the horse. He is committed to helping the rider understands as much about their horse as possible. His techniques comprise of those learned from his teachers Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt because from his experience, those gentlemen were remarkable teachers. And, while he shares their very practical methods, he gently communicates his personal life lessons that are unforgettable. The depth of teaching takes you by surprise, even for those sitting in the theater watching. Buck is transparent. He uses this gift to relay one of his strongest messages to the horseman, “If it’s not working, change it!” The Story of Buck is fresh, funny and entertaining; but, oh, so moving! It’s a magnificent story of reaching out to do the impossible, hanging on for the ride of one’s life and never letting go in order to take that long awaited journey into the sunset … on horseback!