The Rider

Guests Expected

Director Chloé Zhao and subject Brady Jandreau expected to attend April 7 screening.


After suffering a life-threatening head injury, rodeo competitor Brady Blackburn is told never to ride again. But his life is utterly entwined with horses; they are his passion and fuel his dreams for a better life. Director Chloé Zhao met the real-life Brady while filming Songs My Brother Taught Me (2014 SFFILM Makers grant-winner) on the Pine Ridge reservation. A Lower Brule Sioux cowboy, he is a gentle and powerfully magnetic screen presence. This fascinating hybrid film tells a version of his story with an intimate naturalism and indelible sense of place and character.

"Whether it comes down to pure lightning-in-a-bottle presence or a nurturing directorial hand — a bit of both, most likely — Jandreau is quite a find: a natural, laconic brooder, with the steady stance and gaze of a scragglier Heath Ledger. He’s up to the later emotional demands of Zhao’s script, too, a disconsolate sag to his physical swagger growing with each setback. And while the novice actors all acquit themselves well, it’d be remiss to overlook the formidable wrangling of the film’s ravishing equine ensemble, with which [Joshua James] Richards’s camera lens is often mistily besotted. Even as harder realities hit home, The Rider is in complete sympathy with its protagonist’s wild, wistful yen." – Guy Lodge, Variety

"The connection between men and horses is one of the most enduring themes in cinema, if an increasingly abstract and nostalgic one. But Zhao’s framing of Brady’s story is unmistakably contemporary; she gets so close up that the screen practically exudes the smell of hay and sweat. It helps that her star has the best method training possible . . . When Brady tries his hand at breaking horses for a living (a considerably safer job than riding bucking ones) we’re watching Jandreau’s own intuition and physical awareness onscreen, a careful, wordless dance with a jittery colt. But there could be no mistaking The Rider for a veiled documentary: Zhao’s sense of lyricism and emotional rhythm is all her own." – Emily Yoshida, Vulture

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Director Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao is an alumna of New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her debut feature, Songs My Brother Taught Me (2014 SFFILM Makers Grantee), was nominated for a Best First Feature Independent Spirit Award, while she herself was nominated for the Independent Spirt Someone to Watch Award. Among The Rider’s honors are the Cannes Film Festival’s C.I.C.A.E. award, the Golden Athena at the Athens Film Festival, and a Grand Special Prize at the Deauville Film Festival. Of her unique melding of fact and fiction, Zhao says, “I think it’s human nature to need both truth and poetry. We gravitate towards both of them, and we all arrive at different shades of gray in the middle, even if we start on different ends [of the spectrum]. A documentary filmmaker can’t help but use poetry to tell the story. I bring truth to my fiction. These things go hand in hand.” (Mubi)

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Year: 2017
  • Running time: 104
  • Director(s): Chloé Zhao
  • Producer(s): Chloé Zhao, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Mollye Asher
  • Writer(s): Chloé Zhao
  • Cinematographer(s): Joshua James Richards
  • Editor(s): Alex O'Flinn
  • Music: Nathan Halpern
  • With: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau

Print Source:

Sony Pictures Classics