(Fremont County, WY) – The documentary Pure Grit featuring Fort Washakie resident Sharmaine Weed premieres locally at Central Wyoming College on Sunday, November 14th at 4 pm.
Doors open at 3:30 pm. It is free and open to the public. Sharmaine and her family are planning to be in attendance, and unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of her control, director and filmmaker Kim Bartley will not be in attendance.
This observational documentary film chronicles three years of Sharmaine’s life covering bareback horse relay racing, abuse, family, love and loss.
Kim, who is from Ireland, experienced her first horse relay while working on a different documentary in the U.S.
“I was blown away and terrified at the same time,” she told County 10.
Seeing how few girls were there, she thought it would be interesting to look at it from the female perspective and contacted Sharmaine through Facebook. While in the states for another film, the two were able to connect in person.
“We met and the chemistry was right; we got along really well,” Kim continued. “Sharmaine was very keen to tell her story. And the more we spoke, the more she told me about other aspects of her life, which then went on to make a part of her story and part of the documentary.”
Sharmaine shared that she had always imagined being on TV since she was a kid, and eventually, her words and everything that she thought came into existence.
“I wanted to give other girls the opportunity to also,” she explained about being featured in the documentary. “I’m not a self-centered person, I wanted her
[Kim] to have options. So, once she confirmed that she was really positive about doing a documentary with me, I said, ‘well if it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be.’ So I went along with it. It wasn’t easy at first.”
An intimate portrait of Sharmaine’s life is created in the film.
“I was a lot nervous about having personal information being exposed,” she told County 10. “But I feel like it’s gonna benefit a lot of people somehow in their life. I hope that it influences them in a positive direction, and also lets them know that they’re not alone in the struggle.”
The small filmmaking team enjoyed their time in Wyoming and with Sharmaine’s family and friends. Wyoming’s weather made editing the film a little tricky, according to Kim, but overall, it was a great experience. She hopes that the film allows people to have a new perspective.
“I’m not in the U.S., but I get a sense that there is a disconnect sometimes between Native American communities and the rest of the U.S. where there’s a kind of a lack of understanding and knowledge which breeds marginality and it’s not a good thing,” Kim shared. “So I think, something like this with a positive portrayal of someone and a really uplifting and inspiring story, I would hope that would get people who might have strange ideas about what Native American communities are to look at things a bit differently and open their minds, I would hope.”
Both Sharmaine and Kim have had schools reach out to see if Sharmaine would be a motivational speaker. That is something she hopes to bring all of her talents to which includes basketball, dancing, singing and more.
“Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams,” Sharmaine wanted to share with the community. “There are reasons why we have talents or certain things that we like because we’re supposed to do something with that in our lives. Anything’s possible as long as you keep your mind set on what you’re trying to do, and you work towards it, too, as well. And for me, prayer has always gotten me everywhere in my life; I’m pretty spiritual and religious.
“And the kids shall stay away from drugs and alcohol. I’m always here to talk if they need guidance. I’ve been to the very bottom and now I’m working my way to the top so I just want to make that known that nothing will change about me. I’m here to boost everybody up if I can.”
The film had its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland in July where it won Best Irish Feature Documentary. It made its way to the U.S. recently at the Newport Beach Film Festival in October and this weekend at the Denver Film Festival.
You can meet Sharmaine on Sunday, November 14th at CWC for the local premiere of Pure Grit. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.