War Pony is not easy to get through. The film, helmed by first-time directors Riley Kough and Gina Gammell, is slow to move and tackles weighty subjects like poverty, child abuse, and cultural appropriation. You’d be forgiven for asking if it was all too much, especially as the film makes its 12-year-old lead (a stellar LaDainian Crazy Thunder, who plays Matho) perform appalling things children are usually protected from. But ultimately, it also feels necessary. Kough and Gammell co-wrote the script with real-life Rez residents Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy, whose personal experiences inform much of the film’s story. Additionally, indigenous actors inhabit most of the screen and turn in naturalistic performances, adding to the film’s sense of urgency. And War Pony also weaves traces of magic into its realistic tale, making it an awe-inspiring and beautiful (albeit heavy) watch.
Actor: Anjeliq Aurora, Ashley Shelton, Jordan Robinson
Director: Gina Gammell, Riley Keough