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Because of Horses

Sep 20, 2019

Lisa Diersen is the Founder and Director of the EQUUS Film Festival, recognized as the largest showcase of equestrian film, art and literature in the world. An avid horsewoman and movie lover, Lisa believes in the power of telling stories through film. She founded the EQUUS Film Festival with the mission of showing the world how horses can bring everyone together regardless of race, age, gender, ability or disability.


The EQUUS Film Festival launched in 2013 at the Arcada Theater in Lisa’s hometown of St. Charles, Illinois. The main feature was “The Horse Boy,” a documentary film about Rowan Isaacson, a young boy with autism. Lisa was moved by how the movie displayed the ups and downs of living with autism, as well as the healing role played by the horse. She knew that this message of unity and hope, shared through film, was critical to share with a broader audience.


In 2014, the Festival moved to New York City, where it screened 100 movies from 20 countries. The next year, it moved to a larger venue at the Village East Cinema and began offering national and international tour stops throughout the year. In 2017, Lisa collaborated with documentary filmmaker Julianne Neal to create the Spotlight Rescue Series, now an annual feature at the Festival. The Spotlight Series tells the stories of cats, dogs, horses and humans in rescue situations, and the people who work tirelessly to save them.


The EQUUS Film Festival showcases films from around the world, featuring a complex cross-section of the equestrian community. Films are selected for their ability to share the wonder of horses, to help us better understand the horse’s influence on our history, and to appreciate the healing that horses offer.


Since its inception, the Festival has expanded to include works of literature and art which celebrate the Festival’s mission. In addition, organizers present the WINNIE Awards, which annually recognize excellence in equestrian film, writing and art.


The 2019 EQUUS Film Festival will be held Dec. 5-8 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Festival films, documentaries, shorts and more can also be viewed on the EQUUS Film Festival ON DEMAND channel, offered in collaboration with Horse Network.



Topics of Discussion:

[:25] About today’s episode with Lisa Diersen.

[1:39] What it is about film and art, that, when combined with horses, is especially meaningful?

[5:47] Lisa speaks about the early days of building the EQUUS Film Festival.

[10:45] Lisa shares her thoughts on how the EQUUS Film Festival has given a platform to — and broadened the reach of — talented filmmakers, writers, photographers, and artists.

[15:46] Lisa explains how the EQUUS Film Festival is more than a showcase, but also a platform for education.

[24:00] What are some of the unexpected things Lisa has learned as the director and founder of the EQUUS Film Festival?

[33:18] Lisa speaks about the upcoming movie based on the 1930s book series, Billy and Blaze, by C.W. Anderson.

[38:00] What does Lisa hope the new reality TV show, Horse Rescue Heroes, accomplishes?

[44:16] Lisa shares other aspects of the EQUUS Film Festival: literature and art.

[48:35] About next week’s guest on Because of Horses.

[50:15] Where to learn more about Lisa Diersen and the EQUUS Film Festival!


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Mentioned in this Episode:

The Hampton Classic

The Black Stallion(Film, 1979)

Black Beauty (Film, 1994)

EQUUS Film Festival

Lisa Diersen

Elegant Enchanting Lusitano

Kentucky Horse Park

Diana De Rosa

HF Films Rare Equine Trust

Mustang Saviors (Film, 2019)

BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center

Talking to the Air (Film, 2019)

Their Last Ride (Film, 2015)

Billy and Blaze,by C.W. Anderson

Billy and Blaze the Movie

Horse Rescue Heroes (Reality TV Show)

The Horses of Fukushima (Film, 2013)

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (Film, 2002)

EquestFile(Use coupon code: BOH10 to receive a 10% discount for two months off your subscription)


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