Private Project

Boy on the track

Dao is a young jockey boy who earns the same amount as adults for running a lap without falling off a horse. His agility and small size make him popular among the other jockeys, and he takes pride in using his earnings to support his younger siblings. However, when his younger brother Patti is born and his family can no longer afford to support him, Dao is sent to work for Pak Haji, a horse owner. Dao spends his days mowing grass and washing horses, studying in dim light at night, and dreaming of becoming a veterinarian. His only friend is a boy named Handika who lives in the stable with him. One day, during a practice game, Dao is frightened when his friends fall off their horses. His father takes him to a shaman who sprinkles holy water on him and assures him that he won't be hurt if he falls. Despite this, Dao is torn between his love for his family and his fear of getting hurt while racing. In the end, he mounts a rough horse for the race, driven by his desire to provide for his family and pursue his dreams.

  • Jeonghwa Shin
  • Muhammad Irfan
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Coming of age, Sports
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 20, 2024
  • Production Budget:
    250,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Korea, Republic of
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
    4k, Digital
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jeonghwa Shin

Shin has directed dozens of documentaries for TV series and films since 2001. She has been interested in the human-interest stories and human–environment connection of Asia. Her latest feature documentary <Fisher Queen> was included in the Official Selection of Philadelphia Indie Film Festival and an Honorable Mention of Toronto Int’l Women Film Festival.
Her ongoing project, <Jockey Boy> won the Colors of Asia 2022 Excellent Pitch Award in Tokyo Docs and EBS Prime Choice Award (2020) in EIDF.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In April 2017, I encountered Dao at the horse racing track in Sumbawa Island. I didn't know at that time that our filming would last for 7 years. I could have witnessed Dao grow up and his surroundings change.
On a small island in Indonesia with nothing but agriculture, feeble tourism, and a fanatic culture of horse racing, a boy jockey, Dao is forced to face harsh realities. I witnessed the boy fight to win a future for himself and find his own identity in the process. All this, he can accomplish only by doubting the world of the grown-ups and finding his own truth on the secluded island.
The protagonist Dao is one of boy Jockeys engaging in this horse racing since he was 5 years old to support his family. He also works for Pak Haji, a horse owner so he covers Dao’s tuition for school. One day Dao starts feeling doubts about the boy jockey tradition. He gradually learns more, realizing that the world around him is filled with superstition, empty desires, and contradictions. “Young boys should become a jockey, it’s a great honor,” “Kids won’t get hurt even if they fall off a horse”… Grown ups’ words don’t make sense to Dao anymore.
After the pandemic, I had filming sessions with Dao and his family. And I realized Dao had found his way in life and the horse racing societies are also changed. Now I'm ready to wrap up Dao's story and I want to share with audiences the story of Dao and the jockey boys he represents.