In the two weeks leading up to Independence Day, there are over 90 professional rodeos in 35 states with a combined purse of over $3 million at stake. Because a rider could, theoretically, win an awful lot of money during this two week period, this two weeks has become known, informally and affectionately, as "Cowboy Christmas." In this Uncork'd Entertainment VOD release, writer/director H.D. Motyl follows four cowboys along the circuit during this two-week period, each traveling over 2,000 miles
In the two weeks leading up to Independence Day-the Fourth of July, there are over 30 rodeos in 19 states, with a combined purse of over $3million. Because a rider can win a lot of money, these two weeks are informally and affectionately dubbed Cowboy Christmas. The documentary follows four cowboys making this trip, with each traveling over 2000 in eight days for a seconds-long chance at winning. For those who win the most during this period, the prize includes not just the cash but an opportunity to make October's National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
At 75 minutes in running time, Cowboy Christmas is a relatively quick and breezy view with Motyl wisely focusing the film's screen time on four specific cowboys primarily focused in the area of steer wrangling. The cowboys, who in this case travel in pairs, are a quietly inspirational group with a strong camaraderie and a respect for one another that seems rare in sports (and trust me, this is definitely a sport!).
While some, especially animal rights activists, would argue against the sport, Motyl avoids controversy in favor of a more personal and emotionally involving approach to the film in looking at the lives of these four wranglers, their families and the impact of winning and losing on the road.
Cowboy Christmas picked up the Best Feature Documentary Prize at the Madrid International Film Festival and was nominated Golden Drover at Trail Dance. After a lengthy run on the indie fest circuit, Cowboy Christmas can now be viewed through your usual VOD outlets courtesy of the fine folks at indie distributor Uncork'd Entertainment.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic