‘Chasing Tail’ at Independence Film Fest

Videographer Viviana Madronero-Rivero and Buena Vista filmmaker Curtis Imrie on the set of 'Chasing Tail.'
Videographer Viviana Madronero-Rivero and Buena Vista filmmaker Curtis Imrie on the set of 'Chasing Tail.'

Among a few short films to be screened today and tomorrow at the Independence Film Festival in Pueblo is “Chasing Tail,” a 7-minute “trailer” for a long-form documentary by filmmaker and pack-burro racer Curtis Imrie. The film stands out as the only film made in the Arkansas Valley region, and features not only Imrie but other area residents as well.

I’ve known Imrie well enough to have watched this film being made over the past three decades. It contains footage from his early adulthood, on through to this past year, when a donkey he owns, Mordecai, was selcted as the mascot for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. It was this latest chapter that struck the imagination of videographer Viviana Madronero-Rivero of Gato Productions, who helped him sort through an ice chest full of footage about his life.

“Curtis spent literally years of his life collecting video to eventually make a film that could vividly demonstrate the evolution of a human life, from the early years and the youthful mistakes all of us make, to the choices along the way that seem mundane at the time, but end up defining who we are long-term,” Viviana says.

“To many people, racing donkeys in remote mountain towns might seem like a joke. In the context of a human life, it is the direct antithesis of an average American life with a house in the suburbs, 2.5 kids and an all-consuming career aimed at financial and material acquisition. But for people like Curtis, it is a way of life that provides joy, clarity and happiness,” Viviana says.

For those unable to attend the 7 p.m. today or 2:30 Saturday screenings in Pueblo click here.

One thought on “‘Chasing Tail’ at Independence Film Fest

  1. I saw the “donkumentary” on which this short is based and wrote this letter to a cable carrier:

    If you have cable subscribers trapped in small towns they shoulda left long ago – here’s a film of consummate empathy with their predicament.

    Antihero Everett Winfield, pushing 60, is still haunted by “Hungry Ghosts:” high school girlfriends, a teen brother’s drowning, his fading health and burro-racing prowess, even his ability to make ends meet.

    Anyone who’s sweated foreclosure or late payments from people owing will feel right at home in Everett’s precarious world. He says he just wants to get through life not interfering nor being interfered with, but he’s as wedded as can be … to the bank, to the feedstore, to the weather, to the (live)stock market. He reflects the burros he loves and husbands; and like these loveable beasts, there may be a lot more Everetts out there than we imagine (40,000,000 burros worldwide, the film reports).

    Among the flick’s charms: nary a brand-name nor logo in sight; the dialogue never sounds written nor read; plentiful burro walk- and run-ons. Yet this is no “Phar Lap” horse-opera: several species connect Everett to the mountain soil with which he is so comfortable and on which he hopes to be buried.

    Some of your subscribers will think: “Death of a Salesman: The High Desert Years,” and well they might. Like Willy Lomans (or like an old gold mine, for that matter), Everett Winfield is done played-out. He’s got woman-trouble, money-trouble, and a girlfriend’s baby-on-the-way to add to his huggable (and hungry) foals. “Things are moving so fast these days,” he laments, and he muses about his devolution toward “lonesome old fart.”

    I won’t tell you the ending, but the message in director/actor Curtis Imrie’s collage-of-a-tale may ring a bell: no man is an island, even if the Rockies are as far from the ocean as one can get on this continent.

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