Movie City News – BUCK in Top Ten for 2011

Kim Voynar

Cindy Meehl working on BUCK

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Buck, Cindy Meehl
One of the surprises of Sundance, this quiet, modest doc introduces us to the real life model for “The Horse Whisperer,” Buck Brannaman, a man who overcame childhood abuse to become a calm, gentle man who trains horses by treating them with the understanding and compassion with which he wishes his own abusive father had treated him and his brother. One of the most delightful films of any genre last year.

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Citizen critics pick BUCK as one of best movies for 2011

The Union-Tribune’s Citizen Critics sat through a year of movies ranging from the great (“The Help”), to the confusing (“Anonymous”), to the lukewarm (“Larry Crowne”), to the just plain bad (“The Sitter”).

Here are their favorite movies of 2011:


The movie genre that caught most of my attention this year is the documentary, and from that group my favorite by far was “Buck.” This film about Buck Brannaman the real-life horse whisperer is fabulous. He is an inspiration, not only in his communication, understanding and compassion with horses but also in how he overcame the unbelievable adversity of his abusive childhood. The connection between man and horse is a large focus of the film, but it is also about sensitivity and respect for every living being. Buck’s poetic grace is felt throughout, and it is remarkable to see how truly gifted he is and what an extraordinary life he has created. This is the best 88 minutes I spent in a theater this year!

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Horsing around at Sundance: Director Cindy Meehl’s perspective

Digital Journal Reports | January 2, 2012
Michael Krebs

Andrea Meditch, Julie Goldman, Buck Brannaman, and Cindy Meehl at Sundance 2011

With the 2012 Sundance Film Festival set to begin on January 19, I caught up with Meehl to ask her about experience with “Buck” and about her Sundance perspectives.

KREBS: Often with journalism and with documentary film making the story reshapes the storyteller’s original thought on the subject at hand. And with Buck, the cowboy helps reorient the perspective of a given troubled horse. How did Buck shape you as a director? And when you see the film now, how does he continue to have an impact on you?

MEEHL: Buck actually did a lot to shape me as a director, though I’m sure he does not know it. He has a way of “raising the bar” on everything you do. There is no such thing as too tired, too difficult or not trying your absolute best in his world. Excuses are a joke to him. He’s like the Nike ad ~~ Just Do It! His hard work philosophy and tenacious manner was a big influence on me. Anyone who has ever made a film knows that it is a job full of challenges and choices. It is not for the faint of heart. Knowing his dedication to his work made me work harder than ever to accurately depict him and achieve what it was that I wanted to say in this film. Seeing the film, even now, I still get choked up when I see him riding alone in that field at the end of the film because I know how hard won his success is.

BUCK selected in Alison Gang’s Best Movies of 2011
December 30, 2011

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‘Buck’ Shortlisted for Best Documentary Oscar Nomination

Brad Estes 12/29/11

The documentary ‘Buck’, which tells the story of Sheridan-area horse clinician Buck Brannaman, has seen its fair share of accolades since its release, and now it’s being talked about as Oscar-worthy.

Brannaman confirmed Wednesday that they are in the running for “Best Documentary” for the 2011 Oscars, but said that they won’t know until the top five are announced on January 24th. Ballots went out Tuesday for voting.

The film won an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival this past spring, along with being recognized at several others it appeared in overseas.

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2011 was an outstanding year for documentaries
Mark Hinson, Democrat Senior Writer | December 29, 2011

This year contained such a wealth of worthy documentaries that, hey, I decided to turn the spotlight on 10 of the best. It was harder to keep this list to 10 than it was to come up with 10 narrative films. You really can’t go wrong with any of these picks:

3.) “Buck” — Should be required viewing for anyone who owns a horse or has ever ridden one of the planet’s most complicated, iconic and bite-y animals. Thanks to a drunken and abusive father, horse-trainer Buckshot “Buck” Brannaman should have turned out to be one ornery cuss you wouldn’t want to sit next to in a bar. Instead, the beaten child grew up to become a stoic cowboy who identifies with beasts of burden that have been kicked and whipped. First-time filmmaker Cindy Meehl steers clear of making a sappy Oprah-style special and lets the philosophical Buck do the talking. She knows a star when she sees one. (Available on DVD)


Film Feature: The 10 Best Overlooked Films of 2011

Submitted by mattmovieman | December 28, 2011

There’s a striking early moment in Cindy Meehl’s documentary where horse trainer Buck Brannaman slows the speed of his walking to demonstrate how he might move as an old man. His horse observes this change and adjusts its movement accordingly by following its owner at a slower speed. It becomes quickly apparent that Brannaman has somehow created a silent language with horses that allows him to calm and navigate their minds. As one of the nation’s most respected practitioners of the “natural horsemanship” method, Brannaman spends the majority of his time on the road, holding clinics at various locations throughout the continent where he’s gradually built a base of avid participants. Meehl’s film becomes an extension of Brannaman just as his horses become an extension of him. It’s a stripped-down and straightforward portrait with a great deal of depth and wisdom that applies to life beyond the stable. The structure he imposes on the horses is mirrored by the structure provided by his own rigid schedule, which may function as a form of protection. Brannaman’s need for order in his life seems to have sprung directly from his troubled upbringing. At a time when America’s divisive culture is anchored by shouting matches with the power to drown out all common sense, I suspect every person could benefit from emulating Brannaman’s serene, no-nonsense approach to dealing with conflict.

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FSR Film School Rejects Year in Review picks BUCK

#7. The Great Docu-Biopic

2011 Year in Review by Landon Palmer
December 28, 2011

Documentaries have often proven to be a useful means of exploring the life of an important individual. The non-fiction biopic can give us a closer connection to the real person (living or dead) than any famous actor caked in makeup and accompanied with an imitating voice (for example, see Eastwood’s J. Edgar – or better yet, don’t). But 2011 gave a smorgasbord of great documentaries that dove into the lives of fascinating individuals who might not have otherwise made the history books.

Cindy Meehl’s Buck captured the incredible story of a horse-training professional who spoke to horses after humans failed him at an early age. Richard Press’s Bill Cunningham: New York examined the annals of the city’s fashion history as it’s been lensed by a charming and enigmatic elderly man for decades, and in the process slyly says more about the newspaper industry than Page One and more about fashion than The September Issue.


Bloomberg – BUCK in Top 10 for 2011

Top 2011 Films Star Clooney’s Baron, Gosling’s Getaway Driver

By Rick Warner – Dec 28, 2011 12:01 AM ET

They’re all leading characters in my favorite films of 2011.

“Buck”: A touching documentary about Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for Robert Redford’s equine trainer in “The Horse Whisperer.” Brannaman overcame a Dickensian childhood to become a world-famous horse handler known for his uncanny ability to communicate with the animals.

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Cincinnati CityBeat on BUCK

Is This Real Life?
As usual, compelling documentary films abounded in 2011
By Steven Rosen | December 28, 2011


Buck Brannaman, a modern-day cowboy who travels the country holding horse-training clinics and who was the model for The Horse Whisperer, proves a rewarding subject for filmmaker Cindy Meehl. His folksy wisdom and gentle manner with horses hide tough memories of childhood abuse. The film also is a paean to America’s wide-open spaces.

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