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1996 IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award

By IDA Editorial Staff

Two black-and-white photos from 'Just for the Ride' (left) and the director Amanda Michelli (right).

Camera, Editing, Production: Amanda Micheli
Cast: Fern Sawyer, Jan Youren, Jean Bell, Candy Jacobsen, Amanda Micheli
Additional Camera: Allison Humenuk, Karen Gottfried, Maria Rivarola
53 min.

Just for the Ride is a personal documentary born out of a young woman's desire to find the heroines of her childhood-cowgirls. The film investigates the past and present of women's rodeo through the filmmaker's experiences with two inspirational women, Fern Sawyer and Jan Youren. Fern is a legendary rodeo cowgirl who runs her own ranch at age 76 and whose extravagant rodeo clothes grace the walls of three halls of fame. After raising eight children, Jan Youren at the age of 51 is the six-time world champion women's bronc rider, having broken nearly every bone in her body along the way. The filmmaker na rates in the first person, merging her childhood obsession with horses and her adult fascination with these tough, fearless women of the rodeo world. By the film's end, this fascination has become so strong that she is compelled to get on a wild bronc herself.

Just for the Ride is Amanda Micheli's first film. Originally from Boston, she studied still photography, studio art and theatre, before beginning work in the undergraduate film department at Harvard University. A life-long addiction to horses and the allure of the West brought her to New Mexico, "The Land of Enchantment [and cowgirls]"—where she shot Just for the Ride, the film was shot in 16mm, as an undergraduate thesis project under the advisement of Ross McElwee (Sherman's March). After finishing school in Boston, Micheli headed West once more, this time to San Francisco, where she currently works in film and spends quality time with her cat, Calamity.