At New York City’s sixth annual EQUUS Film Festival in early December, the documentary The Gobi Gallop by Gabrielle “Bree” von Bradsky ’16 won the festival award for Best Inspirational Documentary Over 60 Minutes.
The Gobi Gallop tells the story of an annual charity horseback ride during which 12 riders from around the world, accompanied by a team of Mongolian equestrians, ride for 10 days. The 700-kilometer journey, on tough Mongolian ponies, raises money for a kindergarten class that serves impoverished families in the region. Von Bradsky served as director, videographer, interviewer and editor of the film.
The trip to Mongolia came about through her friendship with Ryan Kertanis ’16, who was serving there as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and recommended von Bradsky to film the project. Following graduation, von Bradsky gained experience working at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., as a videographer, editor and podcast creator.
“Once I reached a point at the National Women’s Hall of Fame where I could do my work remotely I bought a one-way ticket to Mongolia,” says von Bradsky, who graduated magna cum laude in anthropology and media & society. “I didn’t know what was next, but I knew I wanted to explore the world before settling down.”
The spontaneity of the Gobi Gallop was the most difficult part of filming the ride, she said. “The route changed due to the feed available to the horses, the car couldn’t pass over land that the horses could because it’s too wet, and some of the riders became sick. As a result, the ‘story’ of the documentary didn’t come until afterwards when I looked back at the hundreds of hours of footage.”
As a student, von Bradsky created a 30-minute film as an independent study project called “Genducated,” which explored the gender disparity within the Economics Department. She also produced a music video for the HWS-based a cappella group Three Miles Lost that garnered more than 300,000 views on YouTube. She served as captain of the HWS Alpine Ski Team and studied abroad in Wales and Vietnam.
“The film work that I do is closely related to both of my majors,” says von Bradsky. “My major in anthropology taught me empathy and the power of hearing people’s stories. This has driven me across the world to learn about new places and different ways of living, eat new food and smell new smells. My major in media & society sparked my passion in videography. I have always loved taking photographs, but videos allow a story to be told.”
Currently, von Bradsky is exploring New Zealand and has applied to two universities—Duke and Ryerson—to join MFA programs in film and media. She blogs at www.breevonbradsky.com and hopes to travel next to Australia and Swaziland.