Virtual benefit by Bodega horse rescue stars ‘Black Beauty’ filmmaker

If not for the coronavirus crisis, local equestrians and other horse lovers on Saturday might have met in person the writer and director of a new Disney film adaptation of the classic “Black Beauty.”

Plan B worked out quite well, too.

Screenwriter-director Ashley Avis appeared as featured guest of a virtual benefit soiree for the horse rescue mission at west Sonoma County’s Casari Ranch and for The Wild Beauty Foundation that Avis created with her husband, “Black Beauty” producer Edward Winters.

There’s more on the foundation at www.wildbeautyfoundation.org.

Ariana Strozzi Mazzucchi of Casari Ranch, located outside of Bodega, has joined forces with The Wild Beauty Foundation as she works to rescue and protect horses and to promote what she calls the magic that happens when people engage with horses.

Mazzucchi encouraged guests of her Saturday afternoon virtual fundraising party to get cozy at home, “uncork a bottle of wine or make your favorite tea” and settle in for a couple of hours of music and conversation about horses in need of human help.

Avis spoke about the inspiration that led her to write and direct “Black Beauty,” a film adaptation of the 1877 novel by Anna Sewell that follows the life of a horse through its many stages, from a coveted colt to a gentleman’s carriage horse to a cruelly exploited cab horse.

In Avis’ retelling of the story, a wild horse speaks for itself as the animal and a teenage girl forge a profound, lifetime bond. The new “Black Beauty” stars Mackenzie Foy, Kate Winslet, Claire Forlani, Iain Glen and Fern Deacon. It will be released Nov. 27 on the Disney+ steaming service.

At one point in Saturday’s virtual benefit party, Avis and Mazzucchi recounted how they recently rescued horses from a kill pen in Texas.

For more on Casari Ranch, go to casariranch.com.

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