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‘Dream Horse’ Is Set in Wales, But Its Director Says Its Message Will Resonate for Many Rust Belt Communities

The fact-based "Dream Horse" tells the story of an entire village coming together to beat economic and cultural odds.

Euros Lyn and Toni Collette

“Dream Horse” is a fact-based movie starring Toni Collette as a supermarket worker living in the Welsh countryside who teams up with her fellow townspeople to realize her dream of owning a champion racehorse. With limited means and no aristocratic background, Collette’s Jan Vokes defies the odds stacked against her, offering an inspirational story that director Euros Lyn says will transcend accents and national boundaries to resonate with people the world over.

“This is a part of the world that’s like a lot of places all over here in the US,” Lyn said at the IndieWire Studio, presented by Dropbox. “It’s part of the rust belt — places where people used to be miners and steelworkers. All those jobs are gone and this community’s left behind without those jobs. With that went their pride and their self confidence and their hope.

“This is a story I hope will speak to a lot of communities across the world that says you can still dream, you can still achieve things. There’s so much talent in those places and your dreams can come true.”

Much has been said in recent years about American communities that feel left behind — look no further than the “Rust Belt” or more perjorative “Flyover state” monikers — as it seems like economic vitality is increasingly concentrated in coastal cities following the decline of American manufacturing.

“Dream Horse” is based on the true story of Jan Vokes, a bartender in a small village about 16 miles outside Cardiff. Vokes dreamed of breaking into a sport that frequently cost millions, to breed and train a racehorse.

The film shows Collette’s Vokes collecting £10 a week from her neighbors in order to save up to buy a foal and raise it into a champion.

“It’s entirely inspirational,” Collette said after the film’s Sundance premiere. “I just found it so empowering and so moving that this woman knows nothing about that world but just has an idea to infuse some passion and some meaning into her life. She puts all of her energy into this horse, she’s so determined.”

That dream helps transform Vokes’ whole village, helping round out an inspirational message.

“Dream Horse” will be released by Bleecker Street in the US May 1 and by Warner Bros. in the UK April 17.

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