News

Look for Two Extra Stops in Houston and LA on the Western Swing Tour 2010!

9/11                  Montreal, CA            Blue Sunshine

9/17 - 9/23      New York, NY           IFC Center

9/17 - 9/23      Austin, TX                 Alamo Drafthouse

9/24 - 9/30      Los Angeles, CA       Downtown Independent

9/27                  Las Cruces, NM        Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility

9/28                  Tempe, AZ                 Madcap Theatres

9/30                  San Francisco, CA     Red Vic Movie House

10/4                  Bellingham, WA        Pickford Cinema

10/5 - 10/7      Seattle, WA                 Northwest Film Forum

10/7                  Tulsa, OK                   University of Tulsa

10/8                  Portand, OR              Hollywood Theatre

10/8 - 10/14    Denver, CO                Starz Film Center

11/3                  Houston, TX              Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks Houston

11/5                  New Orleans, LA      Ogden Museum of Southern Art


Sneek Peak at Wild Horse Race Snippet!

http://www.vimeo.com/14913051


UPDATED WESTERN SWING TOUR 2010 SCHEDULE

9/11                  Montreal, CA            Blue Sunshine

9/17 - 9/23      New York, NY           IFC Center

9/17 - 9/23      Austin, TX                 Alamo Drafthouse

9/27                  Las Cruces, NM        Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility

9/28                  Tempe, AZ                Madcap Theatres

9/30                  San Francisco, CA    Red Vic Movie House

10/4                  Bellingham, WA       Pickford Cinema

10/5 - 10/7      Seattle, WA                Northwest Film Forum

10/7                  Tulsa, OK                   University of Tulsa

10/8                  Portand, OR              Hollywood Theatre

10/8 - 10/14    Denver, CO                Starz Film Center

11/5                  New Orleans, LA      Ogden Museum of Southern Art

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Monteal added to the Western Swing Tour!

We just couldn’t wait to hit the ground running on the Western Swing Tour, so we’re starting the party a week early with a screening in Montreal at Blue Sunshine on Saturday September, 11. Check out Cinema Purgatorio’s website for complete information.


Sneak Peek at stops on the WILD RIDE TOUR!

11/16       Columbia, MO        Ragtag Cinema

11/17       Kansas City, MO     Screenland Crossroads

More dates to be confirmed soon in New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, and elsewhere. Check here or at Cinema Purgatorio for more information and dates to come.

Welcome to the Rodeo


Exclusive Preview of the Bullfighter Cam DVD Extra!

http://www.vimeo.com/14180435


Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo DVD RELEASE OCT. 25!

Sweethearts DVD Cover

Save the date and a little extra cash for a DVD that’s a staple in any collection. Look for it here at our special amazon.com storefront.


Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo 2010 Western Swing Tour Dates!

9/11                  Montreal, CA            Blue Sunshine

9/17 - 9/23      New York, NY           IFC Center

9/17 - 9/23      Austin, TX                 Alamo Drafthouse

9/27                  Las Cruces, NM        Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility

9/28                  Tempe, AZ                Madcap Theatres

9/30                  San Francisco, CA    Red Vic Movie House

10/4                  Bellingham, WA       Pickford Cinema

10/5 - 10/7      Seattle, WA                Northwest Film Forum

10/7                  Tulsa, OK                   University of Tulsa

10/8                  Portand, OR              Hollywood Theatre

10/8 - 10/14    Denver, CO                Starz Film Center

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‘Sweethearts’ airs on Channel 4 in the UK!

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‘Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo’ is airing on Channel 4 Tuesday November 3rd at 10pm. 

More details here.


‘Sweethearts’ Screens at the London Film Festival

At the end of October we flew to England to show ‘Sweethearts’ at the BFI London Film Festival.  The British Audience had lots of questions after the screening for us, not just on the idea of a prison rodeo, but on the idea of rodeos in the first place. They also asked about the War on Drugs in America- hearing about the long sentences these women had served surprised many people.  All in all it was an interesting experience to be far from home watching the film with foreign audiences. Thank you to Michael and the rest of the gracious crew at BFI for hosting us and providing such a nice time. 

 

We also had the pleasure of attending a photography show of our ‘Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo’ photographs by Dr.Craig Smith and Shane Brown at the London College of Communication. Dr. Smith is the senior lecturer there and had spent the month of October focusing on ‘Sweethearts’ with his students.


Send us your feedback

Hope you enjoyed the film. Tell us what you think.

Please send comments to: info@sweetheartsoftheprisonrodeo.com


‘Sweethearts’ screening at the Lexington Men’s Prison

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‘Sweethearts’ in New Orleans

‘Sweethearts’ Screening at the 20th Annual New Orleans Film Festival 

 Sun, Oct 11 5:00 PM



‘Sweethearts’ Goes Back to Prison!

October 6th, 2009 we went inside Danny’s prison to show the film to him and other medium-security inmates. Watching their reaction was a great experience- of course they cheered and cringed at all the glorious and violent moments of the rodeo. But they also showed true compassion for their female counterparts. After the film we had a Q&A, and the inmates started a discussion amongst themselves about the consequences of locking up mothers.  Danny himself was horrified to see the cow trailer they put the girls in to go to the try outs.  And he caught a lot of flack from his fellow inmates about a pair of glasses he was sporting in the film. They told him it was a good thing he got rid of them, and he said he didn’t know the fashion police were here in prison with him.


HBO Screening night photos

The broadcast premiere of Sweethearts was stupendous! Thank you everyone who tuned in and left wonderful comments about the film. Here are some photos from the special night in New York with Jamie Brooks in attendance for the Q&A, along with director and crew.


National Television Premiere!

Watch the Television premiere of Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo THURSDAY, Sept. 17th at 7pm on Cinemax HD.

CINEMAX Schedule
Thu - 9/17 - 07:00PM CINEMAX - EASTCINEMAX - EAST
Fri - 9/25 - 07:30AM CINEMAX - EASTCINEMAX - EAST
Sun - 9/27 - 06:50AM MORE MAX - EASTMORE MAX - EAST
Tue - 10/6 - 08:00AM WMAX - EASTWMAX - EAST
Thu - 10/29 - 06:45AM WMAX - EASTWMAX - EAST


More Screenings!

We are pleased to announce there are more screenings confirmed for Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo. The film will take part in the following upcoming festivals (dates and times to be announced):

Indie Memphis in Tennessee

Reykjavik in Iceland

The Times BFI London


Southern Winds Film Festival

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo will be screening in Shawnee, Oklahoma on September 11, 2009 at 9:30pm as part of the Southern Winds Film Festival. For venue location and details visit the b-side website: Southern Winds Film Festival and add it to your festival calendar!


Sweethearts to Screen in Tulsa

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo will screen at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa on Friday August 28th and Saturday August 29th at 8pm & 10pm.

12 S Lewis (1st and Lewis) Tulsa OK 74104

http://www.circlecinema.com/


Oklahoma City Museum of Art

As part of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art summer film screenings, ‘Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo’ will be screening at the museum in August on the following dates:

Thursday, August 20, 7:30pm;
Fri. – Sat., August 21 – 22, 5:30pm;
Sunday, August 23, 2pm

*Partial proceeds benefit the Eddie Warrior Scholarship Fund.

For tickets and venue directions, please visit the OKC Museum of Art website.


Sweethearts Q&A at SXSW

http://www.vimeo.com/5750420

SXSW, March 2009 - Paramount Theater in Austin, TX


Footage from the Eddie Warrior Screening

EDDIE WARRIOR SCREENING

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Sweethearts screening at Eddie Warrior


Dir. Bradley Beesley on screening at SILVERDOCS

Time matters in prison. A lot. Inmates stack time by the week, the month, the year. The hour, the minute, the second? They don’t figure in so much. Yet once a year at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, eight seconds becomes the most important time in the world as teams from 12 facilities come together to compete in the Oklahoma Prison Rodeo, billed as the world’s only “behind the walls” rodeo. Eight seconds is the qualifying time for a score in bull riding, the most popular competition among the rough-stock events. For the contestants, the bragging rights that come with winning are as much a prize as the money. Director Bradley Beesley takes us inside the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security institution for women, as inmates compete and train for slots on the 2007 rodeo teams. Rough-stock rodeo is brutal and dangerous, and serious injuries are common. Women have been allowed to compete only since 2006, and the male inmates often seem surprised to discover that the women are equal competitors. But the challenges of preparing for the rodeo are presented in contrast to the other, more serious trials of prison life. The boredom of unchanging days, the tension of parole hearings and the longing for family all receive as much attention as the rodeo in Beesley’s engaging and highly empathetic portrayal of his subjects.

Filmmaker Q&A

Introduce yourself:
SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO is another chapter in Bradley Beesley’s cinematic career documenting oddball Americana, strange sub-cultures, and homegrown rock stars. Post art school and somewhat damaged, he began drinking moonshine and filming with legendary bluesman R.L. Burnside to make his first movie HILL STOMP HOLLAR (SXSW) in 1999. He has since directed 8 feature-length films, including 6 documentaries, a concert film and a sci-fi narrative. Bradley is the producer and director of the backwoods cult classic OKIE NOODLING (PBS). The film chronicles the lost art of bare-handed catfishing in his home state of Oklahoma and continues to have encore broadcasts nationwide. After collecting over 400 hours of footage, in 2005, Shout! Factory released THE FEARLESS FREAKS, a documentary chronicling and starring The Flaming Lips. He has collaborated on over 15 music videos with the Grammy award winning Lips in as many years, and directed their first ever live DVD, UFOS AT THE ZOO (Warner Bros.) Last year saw the release of the science fiction picture CHRISTMAS ON MARS (Warner Bros.), co-directed with Lips founder and front man, Wayne Coyne. Other feature documentaries include THE CREEK RUNS RED (Independent Lens), SUMMERCAMP! (Sundance Channel) and UFOS AT THE ZOO (Warner Bros.) His TV credits include “Roller Girls” (A&E), “Paranormal State” (A&E) and most recently “Storm Chasers”. (Discovery) When Bradley is not making films he can be found wading chest-deep through murky Oklahoma rivers or passing out wedgies to his endless mob of nieces and nephews.

What inspired this film?   How did you find your subjects?
As a kid growing up in Oklahoma, I had heard about and read about the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo but never attended the event in person. I was a suburban kid that didn’t grow up going to rodeos and I had never met anyone who had been to prison so to me this rodeo with convicts seemed like a mythical and freakish event, albeit in my home state. Cut to 2006 and I was living in San Francisco and I read an article in the Washington Post, which announced that for the first time in Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo history female inmates would be competing against the male inmates.  Because I had already thought this would make a good short film and now that females were added, I was compelled. I called my buddy in Oklahoma, James (our producer) and I booked a ticket that night and arrived at the rodeo the next day with a camera in-hand. James and I shot 7-8 interviews with inmates before the rodeo began and I remember being very intimidated by the surroundings and people. It was all the things you think a prison will be -cold, clinical and strange but also that first day of filming in the prison had an otherworldy/David Lynch tone to it.  After the interviews I was second-guessing this project. Did we want to spend years filming in a prison, did these men and women, some of whom are in for murder, deserve our attention? Do these people really need a voice? Not to mention the fact that most prison and rodeo documentaries are boring. These thoughts stewed with James and I as we filmed the actual rodeo event that night. This all changed when one of our interviewees mounted a bull. Although we had only spent a few minutes speaking with this man in for murder and learning his back story, I was now somehow invested in his well-being and really wanted to see him ride this bucking beast. He only rode the animal for a few seconds but when he came back he was grinning ear-to-ear, the fans were going nuts and I gave him a high-five.  He looked very proud and I felt proud to know him and it was then that I felt like this could be a real film.

What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
The biggest challenge was trying to keep our cinematographer well fed. Because he’s a giant he needs to eat every 2-hours but the prison food was so bad he refused it. So we would sneak contraband (snacks for giants) into the prison.

Who are some of your favorite filmmakers?
Les Blank, Terry Zwigoff, Sam Green, Tom DiCillo, David Gordon Green, John Cassavetes and Steve Buscemi.

What is your all time favorite documentary?
CRUMB.

What other projects are in the pipeline?
Hopefully lots of outreach, international screenings and promoting SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO.

Why did you become a filmmaker?
Because I am not very employable and I love getting to reinvent my life with each new film -much like a pirate. I love production. Going out on location and collecting spontaneous film footage is the best. And, being able to surround yourself with talented, like-minded friends is really a bonus.

What are some of your creative influences?
Winding rivers, dead bluesmen and Wayne Coyne.

Did you go to film school?
I went to art school and took film classes at The University of Oklahoma School of Fine Arts.

What do you shoot on?
DV, HD, 16mm

What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
That we sold our film to HBO.

Why did you want to screen your film at SILVERDOCS?
Because it’s considered one of the best Documentary film festivals in North America and mostly because SILVERDOCS employs loads of really neato people.

Sweethearts on SilverDocs B-side


An interview with director Bradley Beesley at SXSW

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo director Bradley Beesley

By JOE LEYDON

Live From
SXSW Film Festival
Director Bradley Beesley

Cowboys & Indians: You’ve gotten a lot of exposure for Okie Noodling, your documentary about fishermen who use their bare hands to catch catfish in your native state of Oklahoma. Now you’re making the film festival circuit with Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, a movie about female convicts who compete in a statewide competition for Oklahoma prisoners.
Bradley Beesley: That’s right. It’s a prison rodeo that’s been around since the 1940s. They call it “the only behind-the-walls rodeo in the world.”

C&I: Do you think of yourself as a kind of anthropologist, studying oddities in Oklahoma?

Bradley: [Laughs.] My uncle says I’m the anti-Will Rogers of Oklahoma. But I just think it’s a case of me examining all these topics I’ve grown up with. They’ve just stewed with me for years.

C&I: What got you interested in making Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo?
Bradley: To be honest, I never dreamed I would ever make a prison film or a rodeo film. Most prison documentaries bore me to tears. And rodeo documentaries have already been done, you know? But once my producer James Payne and I realized that women would be included in the mix — we figured that would be novel enough for us to show up with our cameras. Which we did — unannounced, basically. That was back in 2006, when they first announced that women were going to participate in this event.

C&I: So you just showed up at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma, and expected them to let you in?
Bradley: Well, we did call the day before we arrived. But we didn’t know who we were going to meet, or whether they were going to let us film. But they let us shoot, and we produced a short — which we premiered here [at Austin's SXSW Film Festival] in 2007. And we got some really positive feedback based on the short, which we used to attract funding for a feature-length documentary.

C&I: Of course, when you’re working on this sort of project, so much is a matter of chance. Because you never know what’s going to happen to the subjects you “cast” for your documentary.
Bradley: True enough. You’ve got to get lucky. But what we did was, we picked girls who were hopefully going to get out of prison within a year, or two years, because we wanted their stories to have some kind of resolution. And we also picked girls who, for lack of a better term, had drama in their back stories. But even then you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Like, we didn’t know one of them would get kicked off the rodeo team for receiving contraband. And at first, we were devastated. Here’s one of our main “characters” — Jamie Brooks, who did very well the first year women could compete — and she gets kicked off the team, and we’re freaking out.

But after a couple of days, we realize that, for better or worse, it’s sort of the best thing that could have happened — for us — because it gave us a bigger arc for her character. For a while it looked like that was going to mess up her parole, after 13 years in prison. But Jamie made parole — and even appeared here in Austin for the premiere screening.


Joe Leydon talks to Beesley and Sweethearts producer James Payne

C&I: The actual rodeo competition footage in the movie is very impressive. Was it difficult to film?
Bradley: Look, I’ll admit: Whenever I was down there in a chute with one of these women on a bull, I was shaking. I mean, I wasn’t doing a very good job shooting at all. In fact, I’d forget I was shooting because I’d get so wrapped up in watching these ladies that we’d come to care about mounting a bull. It was really hard to film.

C&I: By the end of Okie Noodling, you were fishing barehanded yourself. While you were making this movie, were you inspired to try riding bulls?
Bradley: Well, we got so close to these women on the rodeo team while we were making this movie, and the administrators at the prison facility were so comfortable with us being there, that they would let us mount this barrel they had up on ropes for the women to practice on. And then the women would shake us on the barrel. And that was kinda fun. But given the injuries we’ve seen occur at the rodeo — I don’t think that’s something I want to do as someone who hasn’t really trained.

RIDE ‘EM, COWGIRL: Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has hosted a prison rodeo for inmates from correctional facilities throughout the state. But it was not until 2006 that female inmates were allowed to participate in the event.
BACK IN THE SADDLE: Many of the female prisoners who appear as competitors in Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo manufacture saddles in a “saddle shop” at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.

Issue: July 2009

Check out Cowboys & Indians Magazine online: http://www.cowboysindians.com/art-entertainment/tv-film/2009-07/live-from.jsp