Films are often seen as a form of escapism, offering a temporary respite from the challenges of reality. But, there are times when a film can have the opposite effect, shining a light on overlooked issues that demand attention.
Before They Vanish is a powerful film that stays grounded in the real world. It sheds light on the plight of a horse rancher with declining health who desperately tries to find a safe haven for his horses to prevent them from being possibly sent to the slaughter.
The film authentically portrays the struggles faced by this rancher, addressing real-world problems that need urgent attention.
Frank Kuntz in 'Before They Vanish'
The movie revolves around Frank Kuntz, a war veteran turned horse rancher, who has dedicated his life to the well-being of his 300 horses used for human therapy. Frank puts his family and horses above everything else, pouring all of his paychecks into their care. However, his world comes crashing down when he receives devastating news of a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Frank is now faced with limited time and must now find a new safe haven for his horses, as they may be sent to the slaughter without his oversight. The movie portrays Frank's race against time and the challenges he faces in securing a future for his beloved horses, all while confronting his own mortality.
Ejaz Khan - The Director of 'Before They Vanish'
Ejaz Khan, the director, is a wildlife and fashion photographer who is originally from India. He is known for his work capturing the beauty of animals and the environmental challenges they face.
With a background in film and fashion, Ejaz's unique storytelling techniques are reflected in his stunning photography and filmmaking. He enjoys bringing attention to overlooked problems in society that requires awareness, which is why he created Before They Vanish.
Frank Kuntz in 'Before They Vanish'
Ejaz was in North Dakota for a photography project when he met Frank Kuntz and his horses. Frank Kuntz is a horse rancher and Vietnam veteran who spent his life taking care of a herd of horses that included rare Nokota horses. Unfortunately, he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was struggling to make ends meet in order to keep the horses in his care.
Without a ranch to live on, Frank’s horses have an unknown future. There are many kill pen buyers that acquire horses and claim that they will be sent to the slaughter if they are not “rescued” through a payment. He faced an immense challenge: how can he ensure the continued existence of his cherished herd before his time runs out?
Ejaz wanted to bring awareness to Frank’s problem. Initially, he was going to create a documentary about the issue, but ultimately, decided to create a scripted feature film to better capture Frank’s beautiful story.
Ejaz Khan approached casting Before They Vanish in a unique and authentic way. Instead of professional actors, Ejaz chose to cast real farmers and ranchers from North Dakota and Pennsylvania. These individuals had little to no experience with cameras, but they all shared a deep love and concern for Frank's horses.
Ejaz encouraged them to be vulnerable in front of the camera, resulting in truly remarkable scenes that capture the rawness and authenticity of their emotions. This unconventional casting choice adds a genuine and grounded quality to the film. As these real individuals bring their own lived experiences and perspectives to the story, the film becomes a truly unique and compelling cinematic experience.
Before They Vanish portrays the real-life challenges that Frank faces and his unwavering dedication to his herd of horses used for human therapy. Frank credits the horses directly in helping him heal upon his return home from war. Today, he is still fighting for his health along with the well being of his horses.
While it isn't a happy ending to the story, Ejaz Khan decided to generously donate a percentage of the film's proceeds to support Frank and his horses, further exemplifying the genuine dedication and compassion portrayed in the film. Today, Frank is still fighting for his health along with the well being of his horses.