Film-tastic! Documentaries, short films peer into cowboy culture
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Film-tastic! Documentaries, short films peer into cowboy culture

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ELKO – What do black cowboys, the American Civil War, South Central Los Angeles, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Owyhee High School students, Creole cowboys and Cajun jockeys all have in common?

They are the topics of some of the documentaries and short films to be screened at this year’s 36th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Eight films on this year’s schedule will give audiences a glimpse into modern Western life in varying perspectives.

Starting Jan. 29, the films will be shown at the Western Folklife Center’s G Three Bar Theater, Wiegand Gallery Black Box Theater, the Elko Conference Center and the Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater.

Some screenings will include Q&A discussions with the directors and participants afterward.

COWBOYS—A Documentary Portrait (2019)Directed by John Langmore and Bud Force; Length: 90 minutes

In the cinematic tradition of classic westerns, “COWBOYS—A Documentary Portrait” gives viewers the opportunity to ride alongside modern working cowboys on some of America’s largest, most remote cattle ranches. The film documents the lives of men and women on these “big outfit” ranches — some over one million acres — that still require full crews of horseback-mounted workers to tend large herds of cattle. Narrated through firsthand accounts from the cowboys themselves, the story explores the rewards and hardships of a celebrated but misunderstood way of life, including the challenges ahead for the cowboys critical to providing the world’s supply of beef.

After the Jan. 31 showing, join director John Langmore and special guest Jim Brooks for a Q&A and discussion of the film in the Elko Convention Center Auditorium.

Jan 29, 1:15–2:45 p.m.—G Three Bar Theater, Western Folklife Center

Jan 30, 10:45 a.m. -12:15 p.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Jan 31, 2—3:30 p.m.—Elko Convention Center Auditorium

Feb 1, 12:30–2 p.m.—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Fire on the Hill (2018)Directed by Brett Fallentine; Length: 84 minutes

Long before it was known for its hip-hop and gang culture, South Central Los Angeles was home to one of the most recognized cowboy communities in the nation. When a mysterious fire destroys the Hill Stable in 2012, this once thriving culture finds itself at the brink of vanishing forever.

“Fire on the Hill” paints a portrait of this little-known urban cowboy community and shines new light on what it means to be a “cowboy” in our modern world. This genre-bending documentary combines western film style with South Central’s urban landscape to depict L.A. as it has never been seen before.

After the Feb. 1 showing, join director Brett Falentine and special guest Ghuan Featherstone for a Q&A and discussion of the film in the Turquoise Room, Elko Convention Center.

Jan 29, 9:45–11:15 am—G Three Bar Theater, Western Folklife Center

Jan 30, 1:15–2:45 p.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Jan 31, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Feb 1, 1:30–3 p.m.—Turquoise Room, Elko Convention Center

Ramblin’ Jack—Beyond the Music (2019)Directed by Oleg Harencar; Length: 60 minutes

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott has influenced musical greats like Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Beck. He may not have gained the fame and fortune these celebrities have achieved, but with his two Grammy awards and The Presidential Medal of Arts from Bill Clinton, Ramblin’ Jack will live on in musical history. “Ramblin’ Jack — Beyond the Music” explores Jack’s fascinating story, the sacrifices he’s made, and the compromises he didn’t make, inventing himself to become as famous as he wanted to be. Special film appearances by Bob Weir, Peter Coyote and Peter Rowan.

After the Friday showing, join Ramblin’ Jack Elliot for a Q&A and discussion of the film in the Lamoille Room of the Elko Conference Center.

Jan 30, 3:45-5 p.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Jan 31, 10:45–11:45 a.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Feb 1, 11 a.m.– noon—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Rodeo Shorts

Length: 45 minutes

A collection of short films about the history of Black rodeo and some current participants in the sport, “African-American Cowboy: The Forgotten Man of the West” is a brief investigation of Black rodeo in Texas and some famous riders who put it on the map.

“A Family of Cowgirls” follows Kanesha Jackson, a third-generation cowgirl working to become the first African American woman to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. And, “Wildcat” rounds out the trio of short films with a depiction of the annual rodeo in Grayson, Oklahoma.

Jan. 29, 11:30–11:45 am—G Three Bar Theater

Jan. 31, 9:30–10:15 am, Black Box Theater, Wiegand Gallery, Western Folklife Center

Stories from Owyhee

Directed by Karem Orrego and Carol Dalrymple (Edge of Discovery) with Colene Paradise and David Baker (Owyhee Combined School); Length: 60 minutes

For the last six years, the Western Folklife Center, in partnership with Edge of Discovery, has worked with students and educators from the Owyhee Combined School on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation to create Deep West Videos. In 2019, Edge of Discovery returned to Owyhee to assist students in the creation of these 2020 video premieres: Talliah Hanchor looks back at the history of the Deep West video program in Owyhee; Lance Owyhee tells a personal story of finding his roots as a Native American and how that journey has shaped his future; Isabella Pasqual shares lessons learned in cross country and what she will take with her as she leaves high school; and Destiny Max focuses on the culture shock of going from a rural area to a larger city for college.

Jan. 31, 1:30–2:30 pm—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Feb. 1, 9:30–10:30 am—Turquoise Room, Elko Conference Center

Struggle & Hope (2018)Directed/Produced by Kari Barber, Length: 57 minutes

Among the wealth of untold stories in American history is the rise and slow disappearance of all-Black towns in the American West following the Civil War. Founded in an effort to convince the U.S. to create an all-Black state, most of these towns have been swallowed up by nearby counties and cities, or are clinging desperately for their survival. “Struggle & Hope” mines the stories of the last-remaining residents of these towns, while charting their heroic efforts to ensure their town retains its independence, character, and hopes for a better future.

After the Feb. 1 showing, join director of “Struggle & Hope,” Kari Barber, along with Gwen Trice, director of The Logger’s Daughter, for a Q&A and discussion of the films, in the Lamoille Room of the Elko Conference Center.

Jan. 29, noon–1 p.m.—G Three Bar Theater, Western Folklife Center

Jan. 30, noon–1 p.m. —Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Jan. 31, 4:15–5:15 p.m. —Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Feb. 1, noon–1 p.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story (2012)Directed by Conni Castille, Length: 74 minutes

Creole cowboys and Cajun jockeys, Cotton Knights and Mardi Gras revelers celebrate the long history of Creoles and Cajuns and the horses they love. This equine love affair began more than 250 years ago on the first ranches of southern Louisiana, where Creoles and Cajuns were some of America’s first cowboys. Not only essential to hard ranch work, horses were also often the focus of French Louisiana’s renewed joie de vivre. “T-Galop” romps playfully across South Louisiana, from professional sports to community rituals, bearing witness to a modern horse culture that was born centuries ago.

Jan. 30, 1:30–2:45 p.m.—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Jan. 31, 9:15–10:30 a.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Feb. 1, 3–4:15 p.m.—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch (1996)Directed by Alan Govenar Length: 27 minutes

“The Hard Ride” is an intimate look at Black cowboys as they gather for a rodeo and dance on the 40-acre Circle 6 Ranch in Raywood, Texas. A.J. Walker, his wife Pam, and his son Anthony, are preparing for the monthly rodeo, which is very much a family operation. As many as four generations of cowboys are involved in the event.

Before starting this ranch with his father 50 years ago, Walker had cowboyed on white-owned ranches. Because of racial discrimination against Black cowboys, he decided to start his own rodeo. In the film, poignant stories and songs, as well as foodways, crafts, blues, zydeco, and cowboy poetry evoke the unique ways this community has combined Anglo-European traditions with distinct African American perspectives.

Jan. 30, 3–3:30 p.m.—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Jan. 31, 1:15–1:45 pm—Northeastern Nevada Museum Theater

Feb. 1, 9:30–10 a.m. —Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Jan 31, 1:30–2:30 pm—Lamoille Room, Elko Conference Center

Feb 1, 9:30–10:30 am—Turquoise Room, Elko Conference Center

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