Riley Keough Directs Indigenous Drama – IndieWire

Riley Keough made her feature directorial debut with “War Pony,” which premiered at 2022 Cannes, where it won the Camera d’Or Prize for best first feature.

The newly minted “Daisy Jones and the Six” Emmy nominee co-directed the drama along with Gina Gammell from a script both directors co-wrote with Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy. “War Pony” follows the interlocking stories of two young Lakota men on the Pine Ridge Reservation as they face a world built against them and navigate unique paths to manhood.

At 23, Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting) just wants to make something of himself. Whether it’s delivering goods or breeding Poodles, he is determined to hustle his way to the “American Dream.” Meanwhile, 12-year-old Matho (LaDainian Crazy Thunder) can’t wait to become a man. Desperate for approval from his young father, a series of impulsive decisions turns Matho’s life upside down and he finds himself unequipped to deal with the harsh realities of the adult world.

Robert Stover and Stanley Good Voice Elk also star.

“Daisy Jones and the Six” actress Keough first connected with co-screenwriters Reddy and Bob while filming Andrea Arnold’s heartland-traversing road odyssey “American Honey” in 2015. “War Pony” is produced by co-directors Gammell and Keough, whom IndieWire’s Kate Erbland called “talented budding filmmakers.”

“Audiences who opt to see ‘War Pony’ will likely not be ignorant of the ways in which the American government has mistreated this country’s original inhabitants, and Keough and Gammell don’t hammer at the history,” Erbland wrote. “Instead, we see how tenuous the economy of the rez is through Bill’s attempts to find a job (there aren’t many) and Matho’s lackluster time in school (well-meaning teachers abound, but no one seems particularly inspired). The sole character who seems at all connected with the traditions of the tribe, a classmate Matho takes a shine to, also appears to be the most well-adjusted.”

In addition to Gammell and Keough, “War Pony” is produced by Willi White, Ryan Zacarias, Bert Hamelinck, and Sacha Ben Harroche.

“War Pony” premieres July 28 in select theaters and on VOD from Momentum Pictures. Check out the trailer below.

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