(Release Info London schedule; September 8th, 2018, Curzon Bloomsbury, 11:00)
After a tragic riding accident, young cowboy Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned that his competition days are over. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose; to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
Young cowboy Brady Blackburn, once a rising star of the rodeo circuit and an uniquely gifted horse trainer, is warned that his riding days are over after a horse badly crushed his skull at a rodeo and put him in a three-day coma. Back home on 'The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation', South Dakota, Brady struggles with the physical and emotional complications of the accident. He is comforted by his inimitable little sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau), who has 'Asperger’s Syndrome', while tensions between him and his gambling father, Wayne (Tim Jandreau), approach a breaking point when Wayne resorts to selling Brady’s favorite horse to keep their trailer home. With few alternatives and little desire for a different way of life, Brady feels a growing sense of inadequacy unable to ride and rodeo; the essentials of being a cowboy, and the defining elements in his life.
Frustrated, Brady starts to drift away from his rodeo friends and spend more time with his friend Lane (Lane Scott), who's in intensive rehab after his once promising bull-riding career ended in a tragic accident. As time goes on, Brady can’t stay away from his horses. He decides to start riding and training them again. However, the complications of his head injury soon puts him in dangerous situations and eventually back in the hospital. After another painful loss in his life, in an attempt to regain control of his own fate, Brady recklessly returns to the rodeo. Locked in a battle he can’t win, Brady has to decide between healing with the help of his family and friends, or risking it all to keep the only sense of self he’s ever known.
This film is about a group of Lakota cowboys living on 'Fhe Pine Ridge Indian Reservation'. Despite the fair complexion some of them have, they're born and raised on the reservation and are both 'Oglala Lakota Sioux" and bonafide cowboys. They wear feathers in their hats to honor their Lakota ancestry, Indian cowboy, a true American contradiction. Brady Blackburn is a twenty-year old Lakota cowboy. He's a member of 'The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe' and currently resides on 'Pine Ridge'. He's a saddle bronc rider and a horse trainer, who lives like a man of the land. He hunts on horseback, fishes in the white river, spends most of his days working with wild horses, breaking and training them until they're fit for selling. Like a fish to water, Brady seems to understand every movement of the horse, as if they're locked in some kind of telepathic dance routine. He's been doing it since he was eight years old, and it's miraculous to observe.
On April 1st, 2016 Brady enters 'The PRCE Rodeo' in Fargo, North Dakota. He's to compete in the 'Saddle Bronc' section and feels confident after a string of successful rides during the season. But that night Brady is thrown off. The bucking horse stomps on his head and near fatally crashed his skull. Brady’s brain bled internally. He has a seizure and fell into a three day coma. It's about Brady’s struggles, both physically and emotionally, as he comes to terms with his injury. Brady now has a metal plate in his head, and suffers from other health issues associated with a severe traumatic brain injury. The doctor advises him to never ride again. If he hits his head again, it could be fatal. But Brady is back breaking wild horses in no time. Beyond the financial hardships that came with the injury, Brady’s response make think us about the psychological impact these injuries have on young men like him, what it must be like to live in the heartland of America, unable to match up to the ideal image of a cowboy, an image these young men have tried to live up to their whole lives.
Everyone in the film comes from in and around the reservation. This includes Brady’s father, Tim, an old school cowboy who taught Brady all he knows. His bright and spirited little sister, Lilly, who has 'Asperger’s Syndrome', and expressed herself completely free of inhibitions. His rodeo friends, all sharing in Brady's hopes, fears and dreams, and one of his best-friends Lane, who's completely paralyzed after an accident that ended his promising bull riding career. Brady, who works as a professional horse trainer, trained horses for the first half of each day in order to have them ready for a horse sale. The film captures a lot of authentic footage of Brady training and interacting with horses, while fully taking advantage of the magical South Dakota sunset.
The film captures moments in an organic yet cinematic way in order to further integrate a complete sense of reality into the narrative. Through Brady’s journey, both on and off screen, the film explores the culture of masculinity and to offer a more nuanced version of the classic American cowboy. It's an authentic portrait of the rough, honest and beautiful American heartland. Utilizing long, visually stunning takes, "The Rider" explores the prairies of the American heartland with urgency and authenticity while delivering an emotionally involving drama about an existential dilemma.