by director Euros Lyn
Dream Horse is based on a true story from Wales, a country wedged between England to the east and Ireland to the west. Like many other countries we once took great pride and defined ourselves by what we did—we were coal miners, we forged iron, steel, copper, we made things. But during my lifetime that all changed. Heavy industry upped-sticks and went abroad to countries with cheaper labour costs, leaving behind in the rustbelt of Wales, communities robbed of jobs, pride and hope.
This film is about an ordinary woman called Jan Vokes, who refuses to give in to hopelessness, who brings her entire village together to make her dream of raising a race horse come true and reminds them what it’s like to have hope.
I believe the more rooted a film is in a specific time and place, the more universal its appeal. As a Welshman, I especially wanted Dream Horse to be an authentic portrayal of my homeland. We shot on location in the Welsh Valleys, celebrating their beautiful imperfections, the scars of the coal tips, rusting pylons and heathered hilltops. I wanted to hear a soundtrack of iconic Welsh artists including Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkins, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals. Toni Collette (the quintessential chameleon who mastered the fiendishly difficult Welsh accent with aplomb) is surrounded by a cast of terrific Welsh actors headed by Damian Lewis, Sian Phillips and Owen Teale. Our quest for authenticity extended to the horse racing: 30 thoroughbred racehorses were trained for months by racing trainers Tim Vaughan and Robbie Llewellyn to create exciting, truthful racing sequences.
But most importantly, I wanted this film to capture Welsh ‘hwyl’, the literal meaning of which is ‘a sail’ but we use it to speak of ‘fun’ or ‘high spirits’. ‘Hwyl’ is best as a shared experience; something Jan and members of her syndicate often speak of when reminiscing about their incredible story. We as a crew and cast also had great fun making this film and I hope that audiences across the world will watch this uplifting underdog story and be inspired by its ‘hwyl’.
Posted May 10, 2021