The birds were singing in the trees, as we waltzed up the path, a navy dress flouncing, pleather trousers reflecting light. For this was no ordinary evening soiree, surrounded by the tranquility of nature, where bees suckle thirstily at flowers and a campfire is roasting. It would be an evening where movie magic would commence, on a farm nonetheless, where the pigs would swagger, the farmyard dog would yap playfully and guests would gather in a farmyard barn, ready to be transported into a beautiful world where humans and wild Mustangs collide, on one unforgettable journey. But for now our Farmyard Cinema journey starts at the beginning, two friends catching up after months apart. There would be impromptu photoshoots in instagrammable grounds, grey and yellow slogan walls intertwined with flower trellises and weaving plants, with countryside gravel paths that instantly made me feel at home. One born a Londoner, the other a countryside bumpkin through and through, remembering what it was like to breathe fresh farmyard air, where the intermingling scent of hay and flowers in bloom, permeated the atmosphere like an infusion of happiness. The food, somewhat lacking was present, but limited, yet the cocktails, gins and beers made up for hungry tummies, sloe gin swimming in spices and berries, a welcome apertif after a stressful week, fizzing delightfully down our thirsty throats. We roasted marshmallows-vegetarian friendly for me- by the rustic farmyard cinema fire, that leapt and twirled out of the base of twigs below.
Marshmallows plunged into roasting fires, a warm glow in our bellies, washed down with obligatory cocktails, stress and tension dissipating away. Laughter wafted over the open fires, couples came together, friends hooted with joy. In the time between the showing of ‘Unbranded’ and the spare time in between, there were no awkward silences, hugs and handshakes, jokes shared with strangers, a night where you didn’t need to go to a bar or dance at a club to have fun. It was something so deliciously different, a film on the farm, an award winning documentary about four brave men who trained and rode wild horses 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada, tinged with poignancy and boyish humor. Brought to the awaiting crowd by Secret Adventures, it would be the first adventure of many, watching the black lab, with his sleek glossy coat enthusing about the wild mustangs on screen, the friendly goats nuzzling at your hands playfully and watching the sunflowers yellow and bright on the horizon, a pop of colour in a green and brown terrain.
The clock struck 8 and the film began, an iconic adventure documentary, set in the wildest terrain of the American West. The crowd went silent and settled in the plunging darkness, immediately immersed into Unbranded’s evocative, at times painful, interwoven with humor led content narrative, where four men must battle the elements through rain, snow and arid heat, juxtaposed with imposing wild landscapes, as they train a group of mustang’s (and one sassy donkey) through extreme conditions. It would be a narrative about human endurance, testing the limitations of strength and fortitude when faced with devastation, hardship and difficult loss. There would be deaths, sickness, poor hygiene and near misses, but even amid the tales of woe and strife, was a story of hope and success, a narrative that showed the bond between human and horse. There would be educational soundbites from Wild Mustang advocates who demonstrated what was needed to preserve Wild Mustangs and the land they cantered across, while the four men would egg each other on with much needed humor, a heartwarming ability to see the funny side to tragedies, shaping Unbranded into a well deserved award winning adventure documentary.
Perhaps it was the solo donkey who was the most magnetizing character, who despite his limitations and shortcomings, never gave up on the journey to Mexico, even when his stature was less imposing, and weaker in strength than his mustang counterparts. Yet despite being petite in height and build, even when he was lagging behind, he kept going, determined to make a go of one tumultuous journey. He saw horsey friends come and go, rode though mountains and plunged into inviting lakes. He competed for the four men’s attention and coaxed the watching audience in a donkey loving stupor, but most of all this donkey proved that limitations don’t hold you back, that animals can teach us humans how to navigate the very world that we live in. And when at last, their arduous yet rewarding journey came to an end, this sassy donkey remained an iconic symbol of the human condition, where through hardships, intolerance and stereotypes, we can break through the walls and set a new destiny, carved with promise and progression.
The night was coming to an end, and the farm was buzzing with reactive interest, animals sleeping under the silver sliver of the moon above, stars twinkling over dormant sunflowers that drooped against the navy skies. It was a perfect backdrop, to a perfect night as we walked, leaving our animal friends behind, a chorus of farmyard cinema goers traipsing into the inky darkness that lay ahead, cutting through yellow sepia tone tunnels, littered with mosaic portraits and teal pubs. The street lamps glowed with a neon yellow over Leake Street Tunnel, a graffiti example of artistry in a minimalists habitual region, clean lines with jagged scrawling murals, but still we thought about the film we had witnessed, a cinematic masterpiece, underrated, a story under-heard. At last we lay our sleepy heads on sunken pillows and broken mattresses, until our eyes closed and our minds were filled with images of rustic landscapes,where mustangs and one singular donkey came to together in beautiful partnership and harmony.
Have You Ever Been To A Farmyard Cinema Before?
Please note we were given complimentary tickets to watch Unbranded as part of a collaboration with ‘Love Pop Ups London’ And ‘Secret Adventures’. All thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services.