In the film, “War Pony,” we follow along with two young men as they navigate life in a questionable world. Their world on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation apparently has little to offer and the two spend their time looking for a way out.
Located almost entirely within the U.S. state of South Dakota, with a small portion in Nebraska, this reservation has seen its fair share of strife over the years. It makes sense that a film would choose more than one character struggling to survive in a place that seemingly doesn’t have much to offer them.
Throughout the film, we follow the two young men, whose stories are shared side by side, as they navigate their individual journeys; and don't always make the best choices. This independent film was directed by Riley Keough and Gina Gammell, two non-Indigenous filmmakers who managed to keep this film still true to its people. Their goal in making this film was to tell an authentic story about Oglala Lakota men and their struggles living on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
When the film was first released in June, 2022 at the Cannes Film Festival, it was evident that they were successful in that endeavor as it painted a true-to-life picture of a bleak life on the reservation; via the experiences of the film’s main characters.
This film shares the challenges of life on the reservation and was inspired by the real-life stories of Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob, who shared their stories with the filmmakers and ultimately inspired the film. When Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob, were cast as extras on Keough’s first movie “American Honey” back in 2016, they openly shared their stories and eventually agreed to co-write the film with Keough and Guimmell. This collaborative effort brought together an authentic story and the dedication to getting it told.
The authenticity shines through in this film which highlights the many trials and tribulations of life on this reservation. In addition to the true stories that are woven into the movie’s script, the location also played a part as it was filmed in South Dakota, on the reservation, and included many locals as part of its production team.
Be sure to see for yourself how this film depicts life on this notable reservation; you will be glad that you did.
Photo from WarPony.film