When Brady Jandreau and Lane Scott—real-life rodeo stars-turned-movie stars in the Sony Pictures Classics independent film The
Rider—have the stage before the attendees at Omaha’s Film Streams Ruth Sokolof Theater, it feels like a homecoming. A path made full-circle. Flanked by QLI President and CEO, Patricia Kearns, they introduce The Rider and its uniquely Omahan roots to a uniquely Omahan audience.
Through Jandreau, the film’s subject, production of The Rider made its way to Omaha, and to QLI, in September 2016. Jandreau himself had suffered a career-ending head injury after being bucked off and trampled by a horse during competition just months earlier, but his connection to QLI ran much deeper by way of lifelong friend Lane Scott.
Scott, a fellow rodeo rider, survived a near-fatal car accident in 2013, an accident in which he sustained a traumatic, life-changing brain injury. At QLI, Scott worked with a team of clinical experts to rebuild critical parts of his physical and cognitive abilities
A documentary/drama hybrid, The Rider weaves its narrative fabric with the threads of Jandreau’s real experience as an injured rodeo competitor who must face the consequences of his injury in South Dakota’s austere and uncompromising Pine Ridge reservation. To articulate this vision, the team behind The Rider used Jandreau’s family and friends—including Scott—to represent critical roles within the film. When production came to Omaha, it came with the intent to capture Jandreau and Scott’s friendship with unflinching authenticity.
Scenes in the film capture Jandreau and Scott working with QLI clinicians in the Daniel and Lynda Dietrich Center for Physical Rehabilitation and inside Scott’s private room in one of QLI’s residential facilities. In one sequence, Jandreau guides Scott as he mounts and balances on an adaptive saddle mount–a true-to-life representation of Scott’s actual physical therapy regimen, which used a familiar activity to strengthen his core muscles.
In early 2018, as The Rider began seeing national release, critics began describing the film with widespread recommendations—some even referring to The Rider as one the best films of the year. Reviews lauded the film for its stark atmosphere, the credibility of its depiction of brain injury, Jandreau’s forlorn stoicism, and the “fierce resolve” of Scott.
By May, The Rider had come to Omaha, where QLI and nonprofit arts organization Film Streams partnered to host a special introduction to the film. Jandreau, taking time away from countless promotional appearances across the country, joined Scott, a group of their closest friends and family members, and a battalion of Scott’s QLI therapists, to speak about the experience of filming in Omaha and the powerful themes woven through The Rider itself.
The Rider is a film about letting go, about the struggle of moving forward, about finding a place and a sense of purpose in a suddenly unfamiliar world.
But for one night, its stars and real-life subjects celebrated their incredible friendship, and they did so embraced by the community touched by their cinematic achievement.
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