“Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West” is an immersive journey into the world of wild horses and highlights both the profound beauty and the dire plight currently facing wild horses in the western United States.

Filmmaker Ashley Avis (“Disney’s Black Beauty”) and her team embarked on a years-long expedition to uncover the truth in hopes of protecting these wild horses before they are gone forever.

According to Avis, the creation of this film was deeply personal on every level.

“In 2017, I was brought on board to write and direct the modern reimagining of ‘Black Beauty’, a classic novel that had such an impact on my childhood and my great love of horses. I had no idea that my desire to Honoring Anna Sewell’s original intentions would then lead to the making of a feature-length documentary.

Avis noted that few people know that Anna Sewell wrote “Black Beauty” as a plea for animal welfare to raise awareness among horses in her day in the late 1800s.

“In our story, Beauty was born into the world as a wild horse, a deliberate change I made in hopes of shedding light on what wild horses experience in the western United States today” , said Avis. “When creating ‘Black Beauty’, it was very important to me to authentically include images of real wild horses in the film. To do this, my husband Ed and I raised a little bit of funding for filming for about two weeks in 2018 in remote parts of Utah, Nevada and Wyoming I was then able to cut this footage, which included the stunning horses of the iconic Onaqui herd outside of Salt Lake City in Utah as if they were the wild family of Black Beauty. In addition to writing and directing these two films, I also edited them. The documentary in particular was quite an achievement to complete, with four years and over 40TB of footage to find our story.

Avis and his small team gradually obtain funding from people who believe in the film’s mission. For four years, they shot footage across the vast western United States: from California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, of Idaho and Arizona.

“There were eleven flat tires and many dodgy motel rooms along the way,” Avis recalled. “In the midst of it all, Ed and I started a non-profit organization called The Wild Beauty Foundation, and started saving horses in need, while running programs with kids to raise awareness through creativity.”

Perhaps most remarkable about this journey, Avis said, is that “children around the world have already been affected and have started writing us letters to send to lawmakers on their behalf to protect horses. The only way to express what it feels like to hold these handwritten letters in our hands or to stand among a herd of hundreds of wild horses at sunset is pure joy.Like David Thoreau l so poetically described, there is a tonic to savagery.

Avis said she saw these highly intelligent creatures being decimated by cruel and antiquated helicopter roundups that took them away from their land and incarcerated them in government long-term detention facilities, never to gallop again.

“We risked our lives to bring this project to a global audience, to both show the beauty and share the truth about why wild horses are disappearing, all with the goal that our storytelling can help bring about change. sustainable,” Avis said.

“Wild Beauty” screens Wednesday, October 19 at 5 p.m. at the Triangle 4 Theater. Visit www.newportbeachfilmfest.com for tickets.

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