In Chloe Zhao's 'The Rider,' a rodeo cowboy plays himself

FILE - This Jan. 22, 2018 file photo shows writer/director Chloe Zhao posing for a portrait to promote her film "The Rider" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Zhao's film, set on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, is cast with nonprofessional actors playing characters similar to themselves, and stars Brady Jandreau as an injured rodeo rider. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK - Chloe Zhao's "The Rider" is a lyrical independent film made with the Lakota residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

It's the second film the China-born, U.S.-based filmmaker has made at Pine Ridge. "The Rider," which opens in theatres Friday, has been hailed on the festival circuit for its unfiltered authenticity. The 22-year-old Brady Jandreau stars as a rodeo rider whose career is threatened by a head injury.

"The Rider" won the top prize of Cannes' Directors Fortnight last year. In March, Zhao was awarded a $50,000 grant at the Independent Film Spirit Awards.

Zhao says in an interview that Hollywood would benefit from looking for stories outside its bubble.

For "The Rider," she utilized non-professional actors, including Jandreau, his father, his sister and many of his friends.


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