Luke Gilford is not a classically trained filmmaker, but he has worked extensively as a photographer. His series National Anthem looks at the International Gay Rodeo Association, an organization that honors the classic tenets of American rodeo but celebrates rather than rejects diversity. Now, Gilford is making his feature directorial debut with a film version of National Anthem.
I had the chance to speak with Gilford about his own background and inspiration for the photography series and films, and his experience of getting to know America’s queer rodeo.
He also discussed finding stars Charlie Plummer, Eve Lindley, and Mason Alexander Park.
You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.
Dylan (Charlie Plummer) lives an isolated life of routine in rural New Mexico, working odd construction jobs to help support his little brother and alcoholic mother. When he accepts a gig working at the House of Splendor, a homestead built by a community of queer rodeo performers and ranchers, the indefinable magic of an untamed America unfolds before him. Finding space to explore and discover himself, he becomes entwined in the life of Sky (Eve Lindley), a talented barrel racer and free spirit.
While working together in the breathtaking expanse of the Southwest, they contend with the undeniable forces of nature, family, and love.
National Anthem makes its world premiere in the Narrative Spotlight section at the SXSW Film Festival.