Two films, two giants of men. SundanceNOW brings out the heavy hitters for this week’s new releases. First up is an exclusive SundanceNOW premiere of Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project, a fascinating look at a truly formidable man of film; and then there’s Buck, the “deeply moving” doc about a real-life horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman.
Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project is as much an examination of the last 25 years of the history of independent cinema as it is a story about Weinstein himself. Without Hollywood’s “Last Bully”, there would be no Pulp Fiction, no one would have known about that English patient, Rob Marshall would still be a chorus boy and Quentin would be recommending Bruce Lee’s greatest hits in some video store. Like a Hollywood rags to riches story with enough twists and turns that threaten to turn the riches back into rags, Harvey began his career in one of the most unglamorous places in the world, Buffalo. His rise from an improbable concert promoter along with eventual Rolling Stones Tsar Michael Cohl, to what some call the saviour of modern film has been nothing short of spectacular and controversial.
“Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine grueling months a year helping horses with people problems. BUCK, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse-whisperer”, he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment. Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses – and people – with his understanding, compassion and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, BUCK is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.