Bucking the System

Anyone who lives in Oklahoma has heard of the annual prison rodeo in which inmates at the state penitentiary face down bulls and buckin’ broncs in a traditional format — albeit one guarded by armed corrections officers. The rodeo attracts thousands of spectators in what is both a chance at redemption for some of the inmates and a somewhat twisted source of entertainment for attendees.

In 2007, documentary maker Bradley Beesley (who also brought us the Okie Noodling movies) went inside the prison to follow the convicts, particularly the women, who had only been allowed to participate for the first time the year before. The result, Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, is a dramatic telling of both prison life and of one of the nation’s most unusual sporting events. And it brings the story of rodeo beyond the Oklahoma border for those who didn’t know it existed — a story that is even more poignant this year, as the rodeo was canceled for the first time due to budget cuts.

“Bradley Beesley is known for quirky, interesting documentaries, and this is a really fascinating story,” says Starz programming manager Keith Garcia. “And when you watch it, you realize that it ends up being about human nature and emotion.”

Sweethearts runs through October 14 at Starz FilmCenter, 900 Auraria Parkway, but Beesley will host Q&A sessions tonight after the 5:15 and 7:15 p.m. showings. For more showtimes and information, go to www.denverfilm.org.
Tue., Oct. 12, 2010


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