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Interview with Ivo Marloh, writer and director for “All the Wild Horses”

Ivo Marloh on location filming “All the Wild Horses”

Interview with Ivo Marloh, writer and director for All the Wild Horses.

By Amanda LaFevers

After watching the trailer for All the Wild Horses documentary, my intrigue into the making of this beautiful film, set in the Mongolian Steppe led me to reach out to the filmmaker, Ivo Marloh. Ivo promptly replied and agreed to meet with me during the 26th Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Hot Springs for a brief interview about the making of the movie. In the Gangster Museum during the after party on the night before the movie, Ivo sat down with me to discuss how this movie evolved from a race he wanted to be a part of, to a full-length documentary.

To my surprise, Ivo explained how the movie took three years to film and almost a year in editing and producing. When asked about his background, Ivo stated that he grew up around horses and was riding a horse before he learned how to ride a bike. He stated how he’s been writing scripts for movies and series internationally for over ten years. He has a Master’s degree in screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Ivo explained, “When I first heard about the Mongol Derby, I mainly wanted to ride in it. I didn’t ever think about filming it. To be entered into the race, you need to plan because it takes a while as they have to vet you.” Basically, the company, The Adventurists, interview all participants before being accepted to ensure you they are physically fit and experienced in handling horses. The riders must also pay an entry fee which is approximately $13,000. There are approximately thirty-five to forty riders in the annual race that takes place every August in Mongolia.

The derby course changes yearly and is kept secret until shortly before the event. It’s just you, your team of horses and a thousand kilometers of Mongolian wilderness. The course consists of 25 Urtuus, or horse-stations where you swap horses and refuel. The course consists of wetlands, floodplains, sandy semi-arid dunes, high passes, river crossings, rolling hills, green open valleys, wooded hills, dry riverbeds and open steppe according to the website for the race,

This race is the toughest and longest in the world and founded upon the postal system used by the famed Chinggis Khaan in 1224. When I asked Ivo if the horses were really “wild”, he replied, “They’re not “wild” wild. They live in herds and are rarely ridden. They’re not like horses here, so you can’t walk up to them and pet them; they wouldn’t like that.”

As Ivo explained it, the participants will ride their semi-wild horses for about thirty miles or between two and three hours quite fast from station to station. The welfare of the horse is the primarily concern in this race so at every station, the horse is checked by a veterinarian and a new horse is chosen by each rider for the next ride. If the horse does not pass the vet check, for example if the heart rate does not fall below a certain level with a set period, the rider is penalized and will have to wait several hours before they can continue the race. Ivo participated in the derby in 2013, 2014, and went along in 2015 to complete more footage for the film. Ivo originally thought about doing a video diary when he was accepted to participate, however he decided that as a rider, he had the opportunity to do close-up filming of the other riders which would allow him to tell their stories and experiences. Thus, being a rider on horseback with a camera gave him a unique ability to capture the emotion and drama of the race. Amazingly, about thirty percent of the film is from footage taken during the race while he was riding on horseback.

When asked if he was ever injured during his experience riding, Ivo stated that he was bucked off quite hard on one occasion when the noise from his camera startled the horse, however not injured. “I was actually very lucky. Many people got bucked off quite badly; there’s some bad injuries in the film.”

At the screening of the film at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, I had the privilege of meeting two of the female riders, Devan Horn from Humble, Texas and Heather Russell who lives in Houston, Texas. Even though Ivo Marloh is quite busy promoting this film, among other projects, he has been working on another documentary about rodeo riding girls which is a more character-based documentary and as he coined it, “An all-American story”.

All the Wild Horses had its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh this July and won Best International Feature Documentary. Ivo commented that he was surprised the film won, and it was unexpected. The next festival was at the Atlantic International Film Festival 2017 in Halifax, Nova Scotia where the film won yet again. In October, the film was sold out at the Aspen Film Fest in Aspen, Colorado. Next, the film was screened at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the oldest documentary film festival in North America on October 9th. In November, All the Wild Horses was shown at the Tryon International Film Festival in North Carolina, the Hamilton International Film Festival in Ontario, and on November 18th at the Equus International Film Festival in New York City where the film earned awards for “Best Equestrian Feature Film, Best Director and Best of Festival”. Many more are in the works, so fingers crossed that this amazing film will be at a film festival near you soon! Click below to watch the theatrical trailer.

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