Rosie the Rodeo Rider

Several men and women sit at a white picnic table in the middle of a ring. As a crowd of spectators goes wild, a bull charges the table, cracking it in half. A woman in a hot-pink button-down shirt gets caught underneath the bull’s hooves. These aren’t scenes from Jackass 3-D, but rather one of the tamer parts of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. Every September, inmates compete in this event that mixes rural American patriotism with gladiator-style blood sport. About 15,000 people come to cheer for events such as Money the Hard Way, in which a $100 bill is attached to a bull’s horn and inmates try to get it. At its start in 1940, only men were allowed to compete, but in recent years the event has admitted female inmates. Bradley Beesley followed the first batch of women for the year leading up to the 2007 rodeo, and the result is the feature-length documentary, Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo. Beesley also seeks to humanize the fervent fans of the wince-inducing spectacle. As one rodeogoer says, “You don’t want to see anyone get hurt or killed, but if they do, you don’t want to miss it.” Tonight, Beesley appears in person after both screenings.
Thu., Sept. 30, 7:15 & 9:30 p.m., 2010

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