Ride or die
Escaping a destructive home, young, resilient Jody takes refuge on a remote Klein Karoo horse farm, finding renewed purpose through her bond with abused racehorse Damascus and a burgeoning romance with stable hand Dino.
But her newfound peace is shattered when Dino’s past, and a merciless criminal syndicate, catches up with him. Forced to run drugs on horseback and faced with a devil’s bargain – to ride or Dino dies – Jody must decide what lengths she’ll go to to protect her newfound family. Will she run again, or will she face this devil head on?
Protagonist Studios, BePhat MotelProduction Partners
Indigenous Film DistributionStage of Project
90 minutesShooting Locations
English / AfrikaansTarget Territories
Benelux, UK, Germany, South Africa
Young, resilient Jody, from a poor, rural Klein Karoo town, has led a hard and solitary life. Fleeing an abusive home in the dark of night, she takes refuge on a horse rescue and rehabilitation farm. Its owner, Geraldine, empathising with Jody’s struggle, allows her to stay and work, gradually becoming something of a reluctant mentor.
Captivated by the horses, the landscape and the promise of a new life, Jody begins to rebuild, learning to care for the horses and to ride – an act that affects her deeply. She forms a bond with abused former racehorse Damascus – deemed too wild to ride – and with an enigmatic stable hand with a complicated past, Dino. There is peace in this new home, and something she hasn’t felt for a long time: love. But Jody can’t shake the feeling that the darkness she left behind might follow her.
When Dino invites her to a “Bosry” – a traditional horse racing event, it throws Jody into the electric and exciting world of rural racing. She learns that Dino is a champion Bosryer (bushrider), and with his encouragement, Jody races Damascus – despite the horse’s bitter protest. She surprises everyone with her performance, not least herself. Her bond with Damascus has never been stronger.
But her success is short-lived. That night she discovers another truth: Dino is a recovering addict, indebted to Saalie – the sadistic, charming kingpin of a trafficking syndicate. Using stolen horses in the dead of night, they run drugs between the towns and villages of the area. Harsh runs, that often lead to the deaths of horses and even riders. For Saalie, it’s a small price for big money. Dino is an unwilling pawn in his empire.
When Jody finds Dino relapsed, unable to complete a run, she has no choice but to step up. Dino’s life is at stake. She steals Damascus and rides hours through dark, unfamiliar terrain, making the drop just in time. But Jody doesn’t realise that this mission was a set up – a test.
She caught Saalie’s eye at the Bosry, and he has his sights firmly set on her. As he spins a web around her, putting Damascus, Dino and Geraldine at ever greater risk, she has no choice but to keep riding to protect them. Even if it threatens to destroy her relationships with all three, not least Damascus. Can she find a way out?
Realising one night that she’s carrying more money than she’s ever seen, Jody forms a getaway plan – one that could see her and Dino free to live however and wherever they choose. But has she underestimated Saalie? The choices she makes will spark a series of violent conflicts that push Jody to her limit and put everyone she loves at risk.
As Saalie descends on the farm with fury, it’s the culmination of a brewing tension between farm and syndicate that was always going to erupt. In the midst of this reckoning, with Geraldine putting her own life on the line to save them, Jody must repair her relationship with Damascus, begging him to carry Dino to safety.
Fleeing into the dark of night with Saalie and his gang in pursuit, she must make one final choice: to keep running, or this time to turn around and fight. As the sun rises, either she or Saalie will walk out of the desert, but not both.