Louise Osmond's feature documentary, Dark Horse, is announced
Film4, Channel 4 and the BFI Film Fund in association with The Film Agency for Wales, and Picturehouse Entertainment have announced details of Louise Osmond’s Dark Horse, an uplifting feature documentary telling the rags-to-riches true story of race-horse Dream Alliance and the unlikely Welsh syndicate who bred her. Dark Horse is produced by World’s End Pictures and Darlow Smithson Productions.
Dark Horse tells the larger than life true story of how a barmaid in a former mining village in South Wales bred a racehorse on her allotment that went on to become a champion.
Jan had successfully bred dogs and birds and believed she could do the same with a different animal – though she knew nothing about racing and had never been on a horse. Convincing a handful of locals to part with ten pound a week for her scheme, she found a thoroughbred mare with a terrible racing record for £300, a stallion past his best, put them together and – against all the odds – bred a winner.
It’s an audacious tale of luck and chance and beating the odds; a story of how a gaggle of working class folk from the Welsh Valleys took on the racing elite, broke through class and financial barriers, and brought hope and pride back to their depressed community.
Dark Horse is an inspirational, emotional story with as many heart-stopping moments as any ‘jump’ race; it’s a story about dreams coming true.
Grierson and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Louise Osmond directs. Osmond previously collaborated with Film4 on the critically acclaimed Deep Water and recently directed Richard III: The King in the Car Park, the highest rated specialist factual doc in Channel 4’s history.
Producing is Judith Dawson, producer/director of the BAFTA-nominated Death of a School-friend for BBC Two; Cracking Up, BBC Four winner of the MIND best documentary award and writer/producer of the critically acclaimed Why We Went to War for More4.
Film4 and Picturehouse will work closely with Channel 4’s racing team to launch the film.
Lizzie Francke, Senior Production Executive with the BFI Film Fund, says: “Dark Horse is one of the first documentaries to come out of our new pitching process and it was great to see it being embraced by the industry. Louise is brilliant at shaping stories out of the real and the extraordinary with a great sensitivity to the characters involved and the drama at stake.”
Tessa Ross, Controller of Film and Drama at Channel 4, says: “We’re really delighted to be working with Louise and Judith to bring this extraordinary true story to life. As the home of racing, the Channel is a perfect partner for this story about a community that dared to dream, and the beautiful horse that gave it back its hope. We look forward to working with all of our partners to bring it to audiences in cinemas and beyond.”
Clare Binns, Director of Programming and Acquisitions at Picturehouse, said: "I really admired Deep Water, an incredibly cinematic and powerfully moving documentary, so I jumped at the chance of working with Louise. We are looking forward to collaborating with Louise, Judith and the Film4 team on getting what I know will be a fantastic film out to as wide an audience as possible."
Pauline Burt, Chief Executive, Film Agency for Wales says: "This film is a great example of how sport can produce the sort of stories that seem so incredible that they can't possibly be true. Dark Horse wonderfully captures the spirit of how a group of ordinary people with a dream gate-crashed the sport of kings."
Benjamin Kracun (For Those in Peril) is DoP with Joby Gee (Kissinger) is editing. The film is currently in production.
Dark Horse is produced by World’s End Pictures and Darlow Smithson Productions and co-financed by Film4, the BFI Film Fund and The Film Agency for Wales. Picturehouse Entertainment and 4DVD take UK rights. Anna Higgs and Anna Miralis are Executive Producers from Film4 and Channel 4 respectively. Lizzie Francke is the BFI Film Fund exec on the film.
Dark Horse sees a continued partnership with Film4 and Picturehouse Entertainment following the successful releases of The Imposter, The Stone Roses: Made of Stone, A Field in England and Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. The film also sees a continued collaboration between Channel 4 and Darlow Smithson Productions, following the recent theatrical documentary Hawking and a number of acclaimed and award-winning factual documentaries for Channel 4 including Richard III: The King in the Car Park, How to Build a Bionic Man and The Mill, and with Film4 and Channel 4 on Touching the Void.