SACO/BIDDEFORD – Ever After Mustang Rescue in Biddeford will bring a movie about the connection possible between humans and horses to southern Maine in an effort to educate the public.

“The Mustang” has had limited showings in Maine, but will be screened at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at Cinemagic on Route 1 in Saco, thanks to Ever After Director Mona Jerome, who runs the nonprofit on West Street in Biddeford that rescues and rehabilitates previously adopted mustangs.

The film, released in March, depicts a violent convict who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program centered around training wild mustangs.

The film is based on the Northern Nevada Correctional Center Wild Horse Training Facility, which Jerome visited about 10 years ago with Mary Koncel. Koncel is adjunct instructor with the Center for Animals and Public Policy in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Koncel met Jerome about 10 years ago for a project in Koncel’s master’s program.

“I decided to pursue my final project on wild horse adoption and a friend introduced me to Mona,” said Koncel, who works for the American Wild Horse Campaign, a national advocacy group that protects wild horses and burros by stopping the federal government’s elimination of the animals from public lands.

Koncel and Jerome had the opportunity to speak with inmates in the program, located in Carson City, Nevada.

“It was a very well structured program,” Koncel said. “It was also very moving.”

She said it was clear that inmates were grateful for the program and found meaning in it.

“They talked a lot about how it gave the focus and helped them feel better about themselves,” Koncel said.

Like the main character in “The Mustang,” Koncel recalls one inmate who said working with horses helped with managing anger issues. Another, who was dyslexic and who couldn’t read, said since being accepted into the program, he “could read horses.”

Jerome has pre-screened the movie and said that while it’s not for children because of language and some violence, she’d be happy if the message of the film reached at least one person.

This is a must-see for anyone who has followed wild horse issues, rescue work or just loves horses,” Jerome said. “An inside view of the mutual teaching and healing of the wild and the violent.”

Koncel, who has also seen “The Mustang” and will be at the April 28 screening in Saco for a question-and-answer session afterward, said it’s important to remember the film isn’t a documentary.

“How the horse affected the main character and that transformation is entirely possible,” she said.

Where it may have fallen short, Koncel said, are how details regarding safety were portrayed in the film, or not portrayed. In the film, for instance, inmates aren’t required to wear helmets. At the ranch, all riders wear a helmet.

However, the Nevada program ultimately exceeds the film’s portrayal, Koncel said.

The film draws parallels between inmates in the prison and the horses, captured by the federal Bureau of Land Management and sent to the prison to be tamed and later sold at auction. About 60 top 70 wild horses and burros are trained and auctioned off at the Nevada facility each year and each one receives approximately 120 hours of training.

While Jerome said some parts of the film are disturbing, it’s also thought provoking and provides an uplifting message.

“The movie is enlightening to the benefit of the programs offered at Ever After Mustang Rescue,” added Jerome, who said people from all walks of life have come to the rescue to volunteer.

Koncel said the film has an overwhelming theme of freedom.

“We all strive to be free, to live our lives,” she said.

Koncel believes the federal round up of wild mustangs is unnecessary and that sterilization is a better option to manage the population of animals. Horses and burros seized through round ups often end up being put down or sold to people and organizations that can’t handle the horse.

“Part of this is that these horses have lost their freedom and what Mona does with the rescue is pick up the pieces.”

Tickets for the showing are $20 and may be purchased by visiting Ever After Mustang Rescue’s Facebook page or calling 284-7721. Members of area police departments and the sheriff’s department have been invited to attend the screening.

Also a fundraiser for the rescue, money raised will go toward building a barn at Ever After. The barn would resolve issues such as leaks in a roof, rotting sills and structural deficiencies of the existing barn that was built in the 1980s.

For more information, visit www.mustangrescue.org.

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