TriBeCa Film Festival: Film Sheds Light On Horse Racing
As NY1's coverage of the TriBeCa Film Festival continues, NY1's Michelle Yu looks at "First Saturday in May," a film chronicling the journey of six horses and their dedicated trainers on their path to the Kentucky Derby.
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Horse racing can be fun again.
That's the message co-directors and brothers Jon and Brad Hennegan are trying to convey in their new documentary "The First Saturday in May.”
The film chronicles the journey of six horses and their dedicated trainers on their path to the Kentucky Derby. With a father who was a New York Racing Association steward, racetracks are a second home to the Hennegan brothers.
“Horse racing is the coolest sport you're not paying attention to and we want to make people start paying attention to it,” says co-director John Hennegan. “For some reason people are intimidated by it so we wanted to give people a primer course in horse racing.”
“Everyone knows what the Kentucky Derby is, but they don't know how the horses get there. Being lifelong racing fans, it was kind of a no-brainer. We were sick of working for other people and wanted to make our own film and we did,” says co-director Brad Hennegan.
One of the horses documented is the legendary Barbaro, last year's Kentucky Derby winner who died in January after being injured in the Preakness.
In the film we get a glimpse of his equestrian-turned-trainer Michael Matz guiding a young Barbaro towards the Derby trail. The New York natives say following Barbaro was an experience they won't forget.
“To look back on it now and realize that we were around greatness in a historical sports figure, it's kind of humbling,” says John Hennegan.
The Hennegan brothers shot over 500 hours of footage traveling all around the globe from New York to California to Dubai. The most rewarding part of the project for them was showing a side of horse racing that most aren't familiar with.
“This is a story about people that just happens to be set at the race track,” says John Hennegan. “I mean there's no days off for these guys. There's no off season. It's seven days a week, 24/7, you know, all the cliches but all true.”
“We were just thankful that they let us come in every morning and put a mike on these guys at 4 in the morning and follow them all day long. We were just happy they let us be a fly on the wall,” says Brad Hennegan.
After traveling and editing the film over the course of two years, the Hennegan Brothers hit the trifecta with a world premiere at the TriBeCa Film Festival.
For more information on the film, you can log onto TheFirstSaturdayinMay.com
To learn more about the Tribeca Film Festival, visit www.TriBeCaFilmFestival.org
— Michelle Yu