In a Native American racing world dominated by male riders, Sharmaine is a young woman determined to become a bareback horse racing champ but life and love keep getting in the way.

Pure Grit is both a thrilling tale of extreme bareback horse racing and an intimate love story. Chronicling three years in the life of a young Native American bareback horse racer, her unwavering determination, and the relationships that sustain her. 

Sharmaine is a former horse racing champion, determined to ride and win. It’s been a year since she last raced; A year since her sister was paralysed in a catastrophic accident on the track and Sharmaine quit racing to care for her. In the stunning Wyoming wilderness of the Wind River reservation, Sharmaine and her girlfriend Savannah begin to build a life for themselves. They hope for better. But the atmosphere at home soon deteriorates and the young lovers are forced to leave for the industrial Commerce City, Denver. The city brings freedom and opportunity, but also distractions and a strain on their fledgling relationship.

When racing season starts up, Sharmaine and Savannah hit the road and put it all on the line. With a new horse from her city earnings, Sharmaine sees the potential for a fresh start, but life, like the race track, doesn’t always go according to plan.

Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Kim Bartley and Executive Produced by Taylor Sheridan, Pure Grit is premiering on October 24 at Newport Beach Film Festival.

"I like to make intimate and thought provoking documentaries," says Bartley. "My focus is on developing open and trusting relationships with those I film and finding ways to translate their emotions and their stories into compelling, creative films with grit and heart."

Based in Ireland, Bartley also directed and shot The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003) and began her career behind the camera while on assignment in Kosovo. "I loved the urgency and sense of being on the frontline of stories that matter so I began working as a photographer & videographer with NGO emergency response teams documenting their field work in conflict and crises across the globe before returning to broadcasting as a freelance producer and director," Bartley explains.

Tickets to the Newport Beach Film Festival are here.

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Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

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