Synopsis: In the early morning as I gaze over the misty pastures of my garden and I see the first rays of sunlight carefully making its appearance in this Dutch landscape, I enjoy endlessly. A young Carthusian stallion, his coat a soft grey color, makes his entrance out of the mist and starts to play in the still moist grass. His warm breath and the cold outdoor air combine to create soft fluffy clouds. Poetry becomes alive as he performs his game of trot, canter and prancing, throwing his young body loose in the pleasure of being outdoors. His beautiful mane sings “alegrias” as he lifts his head up high while his soft neighing cuts through the silence. My heart fills with joy when he carefully interrupts his wild display of passion to approach me with his gentle touch. Showing me his friendship and trust by including me in his world for a moment … before continuing his delightful game…
Filmmaker Mario Dirkx (1969) graduated in 1994 from the Dutch Film Academy as an editor. A year later he graduated again, but then as a sound designer.
After graduating, he founded his own one-man company, Illuminated Footage Photography, and immediately went to work as a freelance cameraman / editor for various clients. His resume shows several impressive projects, for example the historical documentary of the city Roermond, several programs for national and international broadcasters and his daily reports at the TEFAF artfair in Maastricht.
In addition to his own work as a director / cameraman / editor / lighting technician Mario gives guest lectures as an audiovisual teacher at the Koning Willem I College in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
With the completion of ‘Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts’ Mario can add a lot of new skills in the field of documentary making to his resume.
“When I’m in my garden in the winter and scan the fields of the Dutch countryside, when a watery sun gently draws traces of light. I experience endless pleasure. Especially when my young Carthusian stallion, his coat still a soft grey color, frolics happily through the snowy grass.”
‘Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts’, really started as is described in the prologue of the film.
In 2008 horse lover Mario bought, together with his former wife, two young Carthusian colts: Ingo and Nero. Surprised by the beauty, nobility and gentleness of these horses, his heart as a cameraman beat faster at the sight of this beautiful scene.
In the same period, Mario worked on a presentation about Carthusian monks in Roermond, the Netherlands. This aroused his curiosity for the story behind this Spanish breed. For what was the relationship between these horses and the Limburg monks? Where did their paths cross and get separated in history?
Friends/colleagues of Mario also got excited about the story behind the Carthusian horse and soon the ‘vague idea to do something cinematic with these horses’ became reality. Via Frans and Sylvia de Rooij, breeders of Mario’s two Carthusian foals, Mario and his friends met with Juan Llamas Perdigo. His stories and knowledge about the history of the Spanish horse in general and the Carthusian horses in particular, made the team even more enthusiastic: this story was too good to ignore. This story deserved to be a documentary!
Fully funded by Mario himself, a four-man documentary crew went to Spain in the spring of 2010 for 11 days. Without a script and without a fixed plan, but with Juan Llamas Perdigo as guide, narrator and friend. Thanks to him, the crew came upon the most amazing locations, met fantastic people and were allowed to film backstage at several places that are normally closed for outsiders.
Back in the Netherlands the story of the documentary started increasingly to take shape. The pieces fell together and slowly the picture became more and more beautiful. In 2011 and 2012 there was a second and third visit to Spain, where the story in image and also in interviews was recorded. There followed some more brief visits to Spain, Belgium Germany and Austria to get the footage for the documentary complete.
To finance the post-production a crowfunding was launched in 2013. It turned out that the documentary was welcomed with much enthusiasm by horse fans from around the world. Yet finishing the film was considerable delayed due to the fact that the ambitions of its creators were not always identical with the budgetary possibilities. In their opinion, the base material of the film was too good to finish it off quickly.
The project came under high pressure by the invitation of the Equus Film Festival. A fantastic stage for the documentary. The opportunity was too great to reject. But by accepting the invitation, there was suddenly a hard deadline. The last three months we’ve worked around the clock to complete the film. On the night of 17 and 18 November 2015 we finished the project ‘Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts’, that same day it was mastered for the cinema and on November 19 Mario Dirkx with executive producer and good friend Marc Smedema took the plane to New York with the film disc in their hand luggage. In New York they will show the film to the world for the very first time. After five years of hard work, they proudly present ‘Horse of Kings, Thief of Hearts!’.