Documentary by Stephanie Gillard
This documentary is a visually stunning look at a 300-mile horseback ride through South Dakota that members of the Native American Lakota Sioux tribe make every year. They take this grueling journey in December, often in very harsh conditions, to remember and honor their ancestors, who fled on this same route, but were intercepted and massacred at Wounded Knee. The annual journey is an honorable and sacred tradition for the Lakota Sioux and is supposed to be a journey of remembrance, healing and forgiveness. Many young Sioux are encouraged to go on the journey in order to understand their ancestor's past and rich culture.
A part of this culture is the bond between man and nature, but also between horse and rider. The relationship between horse and rider is a spiritual one and is taken very seriously. We also get to experience the deepness of the tribe's spirituality and culture through drum-circles and traditional songs. The intimacy that develops between the riders throughout the journey is as compelling as it is beautiful. It's a film that really tugs at your heartstrings and makes you feel like you're riding along with the tribe.
Stephanie Gillard explains in an interview that she has developed her relationship with the Sioux tribe over many years, taking the ride herself on several occasions before making the documentary. "They have become my second family", she says, and the film does feel like the audience is given permission to observe some sacred ritual usually granted to only a select few. Visually somewhat raw, but completely breathtaking and engaging, The Ride is an important exploration of history, humanity, honor and what it means to find oneself.