Local citizens push for ‘Buck’

For 30 years, Buck Brannaman has been wooing cowboys and horse lovers with his uncanny ability to tame even the wildest of horses without ever using any kind of violence. Dubbed “the horse whisperer,” Brannaman has conducted clinics on his horse breaking techniques all across the country, and has become somewhat of a cult figure among the horse loving crowd. Brannaman is about to reach a much larger audience, however, thanks to a newly released documentary. “Buck” is an 88-minute film distributed by Sundance Selects in very limited release. Through the perseverance of a group of local horse lovers familiar with Buck and his story, the Tiffany Theater in Broken Bow will be one of only two movie theaters in Nebraska to show the movie. The film won a Sundance audience award and has been receiving praise from everyone who has seen it. It is imperative to note though, this movie is not just for horse lovers. Cindy Meehl, the movie’s director, says the film is not as much about horses as it is the two-legged creatures who saddle them. That sentiment is made clear by Buck himself, when just a minute into the film he says, “A lot of times, rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” Brannaman lives on a ranch in Sheridan, Wyo., and strongly advocates the use of so-called natural horsemanship. When Meehl, who had never directed a film before, heard his story she was intrigued. When she saw for herself what everyone was talking about, she knew she wanted to make this film. The president of Sundance Selects, Jonathan Sehring, has said those at the film festival were very surprised to learn this film had come from a first-time director. “You can’t see this film and not be affected, in part because it is about so much more than horses,” said Sehring. “Buck”, the film, not only focuses on Brannaman’s skills with horses, but also tells the very poignant story of his life. He spent his early years being whipped by an abusive, alcoholic father, and eventually escaped that abuse on the back of a horse. He was eventually placed in foster care with a kind family who understood all he had been through. He is an extremely accomplished rider, achieving a level few ever accomplish. Actor Robert Redford is among Brannaman’s many fans. Redford modeled his character in “The Horse Whisperer” after Brannaman and used him as a consultant on the set. Several local individuals, including Cheryl Taylor, have followed Brannaman for years. When the film was made, they knew Broken Bow would be a perfect host site for it. Taylor approached Stuart Fox of Tiffany Theater, who says he had not heard of the film - and likely would never have heard of it - had it not been for Taylor. Fox says shortly after his initial contact with Taylor, he received several more comments from other individuals interested in bringing the film to Broken Bow. So Fox did as any good business person would do - research. He checked out the movie for himself through reviews and other information, and liked what he found. Fox says the installation of the digital system at Tiffany Theater has made getting movies like this a little easier, and he is delighted to have the opportunity to bring a film like “Buck” to Broken Bow. “We want people to know they can come and talk to us about movies they would like to see, especially ones like this,” says Fox. “We don’t always know about the films other than the major releases.” But Taylor and others did know about this film, and this week everyone will have the opportunity to see for themselves what they and the film critics are raving about. “Buck” will be showing at the Tiffany Theater in Broken Bow Aug. 5-11.