Sonoma winery owner unveils film about wild horses

  • Ellie Phipps Price gives one of her herd of 172 wild mustangs a carrot Saturday April 20, 2013 as they graze on rangeland at her Montgomery Creek Ranch near Stonyford. The horses were headed for slaughter before Phipps Price rescued the animals. Phipps Price owns Dunstan Wines /Durel Vineyards in Sonoma. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Sonoma wine producer Ellie Phipps-Price is putting winery business aside this weekend to showcase her passion for wild horses during local screenings of her new movie, "American Mustang."

The 70-minute film — part documentary, part character-driven narrative — weaves together the near-mythical history of America's mustangs and the current debate over federal policies that have resulted in the captivity of nearly 50,000 horses, a greater number than roam free on the range.

Filmed in 3-D and narrated by actress Daryl Hannah, the film will be shown during a special screening at the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma at 4 p.m. Sunday.

It also will be screened twice during the Napa Valley Film Festival — at 1 p.m. Saturday at Calistoga's Gliderport Theatre at Indian Springs, and at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Cadillac Theatre in Napa. The film will be shown without the 3-D enhancement at those theaters.

Phipps-Price, owner of Dunstan Winery and Durell Vineyard, co-wrote the film and served as executive producer.

"American Mustang" had its premiere last week at the Starz Denver Film Festival in Denver, where Phipps-Price and her partner, Chris Towt, have family roots.

The pair had barely made it back from Colorado when they were off to Montgomery Creek and the 2,000-acre ranch west of Willows that Phipps-Price bought as a refuge for some of the 170 wild horses she purchased in 2010 at a Nevada auction, rescuing them from certain slaughter.

Phipps-Price conceived the film to raise awareness about the wild herds' plight and the conundrum faced by the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees public lands in the western states on which the horses and wild burros roam. The wild horses reproduce at a rate of about 20 percent a year and compete with livestock for forage.

She said the film avoids graphic footage to ensure it is palatable for all audiences, with the aim of seeking wider distribution next year.

More information and a link to the movie trailer are available at www.americanmustangthemovie.com or on Facebook.

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