Riley Keough and Gina Gammell Direct Indigenous Drama That Won Cannes Camera d’Or

Riley Keough made her directorial debut with “War Pony,” which premiered at Cannes in 2022, where it won the Camera d’Or award for Best First Feature.

The new “Daisy Jones and the Six” Emmy nominee co-directed the drama with Gina Gammell from a script the two directors co-wrote with Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy. “War Pony” follows the intertwined stories of two young Lakota men from the Pine Ridge Reservation as they face a world built against them and take unique paths to manhood.

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At 23, Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting) just wants to make something of himself. Whether it’s delivering goods or raising poodles, he’s determined to blaze his way to the “American Dream.” Meanwhile, 12-year-old Matho (LaDainian Crazy Thunder) is eager to become a man. Desperate to gain his young father’s approval, a series of impulsive decisions turn Matho’s life upside down and he finds himself disarmed to face the harsh realities of the adult world.

Robert Stover and Stanley Good Voice Elk also perform.

The ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ actress Keough first met co-writers Reddy and Bob while filming Andrea Arnold’s road trip odyssey ‘American Honey’ in 2015. ‘War Pony’ is produced by co-directors Gammell and Keough, whom IndieWire’s Kate Erbland called “talented budding filmmakers.”

“Audiences who choose to see ‘War Pony’ are likely aware of how the American government mistreated the original inhabitants of this country, and Keough and Gammell are not hammering history,” Erbland wrote. “Instead, we see how precarious the rez’s economy is through Bill’s attempts to find a job (there aren’t many) and Matho’s lackluster time at school ( well-meaning teachers abound, but no one seems particularly inspired.) The one character who seems at all tied to the traditions of the tribe, a classmate whom Matho likes, also seems to be the most suitable.

In addition to Gammell and Keough, “War Pony” is produced by Willi White, Ryan Zacarias, Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche.

“War Pony” premieres July 28 in select theaters and on VOD from Momentum Pictures. Check out the trailer below.

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