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The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering  features films and videos that entertain as well as tackle important issues current in the rural West.

Films are typically shown first at the Western Folklife Center early in the week of the Gathering, moving on Thursday to other venues. Following is a list of films that were shown during the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry GatheringJanuary 30-February 4, 2017. Included is the Western Folklife Center's premiere of our Moving Rural Verse poem film series, now available from our Gift Shop in DVD format. For your convenience, we have added the times and venues: more information can be found in the daily schedule.


At the core of our Moving Rural Verse series are poems that powerfully communicate contemporary rural issues, ideas and insight—and, in particular, the subject of water in the West. We believe that the artful fusion of poetry and video will nurture a deeper understanding of rural America and kindle important conversation. Produced in collaboration with respected Western poets and experienced video artists, the series is a natural extension of the Western Folklife Center's work with contemporary Western poets.

Feb 2 - Elko Conference Center Ruby Mountain Ballroom #1, 12:15-1:30pm
Feb 3 - G Three Bar Theater, 11:00am-12:15pm

Mining the Motherlode is an animated exploration of the themes explored in Andy Wilkinson's poem of the same name. The film is not a literal adaptation of the poem. Rather it attempts to provide a counter-harmony to Andy's words, reflecting the essence of the poet's vision, just as the poem itself reflects the essence of the diminishing waters of the Ogallala. Directed by Jeremy Boreing. Illustrated by Rebecca Shapiro.

O’odham Dances is a lyrical film adaptation of Ofelia Zepeda’s poem portraying a Tohono O’odham ritual in which people join with not only the animals of the desert but all the important elements necessary for rain, including winds, clouds, and the heat off the desert. The film shows the dramatic transformation of the Sonoran Desert as night falls—the sun sets, the moon rises, and animals that have quieted their movements through the day’s intense heat come out in search of food and water. Desert images and sounds convey the powerful sense of place and sacred space that Zepeda’s poem evokes. Film by Jonathan VanBallenberghe.

Bendición del agua is a glance into New Mexico's acequia landscape as seen through the eyes of a young woman expressing both the perseverance and loss of traditions, language and culture. The film seeks to give voice to New Mexico’s acequieros who’ve carried on acequia traditions despite challenges of development, rural gentrification and cultural erosion. It is a cinematic awakening for younger generations to honor ancestral traditions that help lead toward a sustainable future through acts of charity, respect, resiliency and a regard for water, land and cultural preservation. Poem by Olivia Romero. Film by Daniels Sonis, with artistic direction from Levi Romero.

Homesteaders, Poor and Dry: In a time of drought, a small girl finds that courage can be drawn like water from a well. The origin of this poem, Homesteaders, Poor and Dry, was a story a friend’s grandmother told of when she was a girl in Texas during a time of drought and grinding poverty. Through an old story, the story of drought and resulting hardship is a recurring theme in the rural West. Poem by Linda Hussa. Film by Chris Simon and Jerry Dugan.

DEEP WEST VIDEOS - The Tribal Film Translation Project

The mission of Deep West Video is to tell first-hand stories from the rural West that are rooted in the values of life on the land. Since 2000, the Western Folklife Center has been working with people from throughout the rural West to produce short videos about their lives on the land. Using the tools of digital communication, these home-made productions are simple yet elegant; they are not glossy and commercial, but from the heart.

Feb 2 - Elko Conference Center Ruby Mountain #1, 10:45-11:45am
Feb 3 - G Three Bar Theater, 12:30-1:30pm

For the last two years, the Western Folklife Center has organized a special collaboration with students and teachers from the Owyhee School on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation to create 12 Deep West Videos. Premiering this year are the Native-language versions of select Deep West Videos. The Tribal Film Translation Project harnesses the power of the Deep West Video program to address one of the most critical issues faced by American Indians: the loss of language. Students from the Owyhee School will show Native language versions of their own videos, as well as videos and learning materials developed during the project by local language mentors to assist the students in translating their videos and in understanding the history of this Western land.

The 2017 filmmakers are Devin Baker, Dilan Bill, Talliah Hanchor, Gage Johnson, Lance Owyee, and Isabella Pasquel. Teachers and advisors to the students are Elena Atkins, Dave Baker, Carol Dalrymple, and Colene Paradise.

Canuck Cowmen (2016)
Directed and produced by Susan Jensen and Paul Singer (J&S Productions).

Feb 1 - G Three Bar Theater, 2:00-4:00pm
Feb 3 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 10:15am-12:15pm
Feb 4 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 12:00-2:00pm

The Royal North West Mounted Police were the first ranchers in Alberta, Canada, laying the foundation for three major cowtowns: Fort Macleod, Calgary and Maple Creek. These first ranches obtained longhorns from Montana—Mexican cattle that were trailed to Alberta by Texas cowpunchers. Today, Canadian outfits, small to large, show hints of this diverse legacy in Texan-style riding and cattle handling alongside buckaroo-style gear and vaquero-style horsemanship. (103 minutes).

Changing Season: On the Matsumoto Family Farm (2016)
Produced by Jim Young, Center for Asian American Media. Directed by Jim Choi.

Feb 1 - G Three Bar Theater, 9:00-10:00am
Feb 2 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 10:45-11:45am
Feb 4 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 10:30-11:30am

"How many harvests do you have in you?" is the perennial echo reverberating across the Masumoto family farm. Changing Season chronicles a year in the life of third-generation Japanese-American farmer David "Mas" Masumoto and his daughter Nikiko, who returns to the family farm with the intention of stepping into her father's work boots. From their compelling relationship arise meditations on the family's internment during World War II, Nikiko's role as a queer, progressive farmer in the Central Valley, the realities of drought and the transitions between generations. (56 minutes).

Deep West Connections
Directed by Whit Deschner and Kathleen Keifer.

Feb 1 - G Three Bar Theater, 10:15-11:15am
Feb 2 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 12:00-1:00pm
Feb 3 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 12:00-1:00pm
Feb 4 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 9:15-10:15am

Longtime Deep West Video participant Whit Deschner brings us a collection of shorts portraying the humorous stories and artistic connections that arise from deeply lived rural life. Whit's films delight with stories of his neighbors, feuds, friendships, and The Great Salt Lick in his hometown of Baker City, Oregon—Whit's signature fundraiser that highlights the under-appreciated artistic sensibilities of cows...and ranchers! In addition to making films and taking pictures, Whit spends his time writing and is finishing his fifth book, The Early Word Gets the Worm.






We Shall Remain: The Goshute (2009)
Producer/Director Carol Dalrymple, KUED-PBS.

Feb 1 - G three Bar Theater, 1:00-1:45pm
Feb 2 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 2:00-2:45pm
Feb 3 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 3:00-3:45pm

The expanse of the Great Basin we now know as western Utah and northeastern Nevada is home to the Shoshone-Goship people—the Goshutes. It is a dramatic and illusive land where water is life. The Goshute tenaciously retain roots in their ancestral homeland, maintaining their legendary knowledge of desert lifecycles and medicinal uses of plants. Their innovation, balance and strength set an example for 21st Century crises of sustainability. 
(27 minutes).

Working Lands: A History of Agriculture in Nevada County (2015)
Produced by Nevada County Resource District.

Feb 2 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 12:00-12:45pm
Feb 3 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 9:30-10:15am

In 1848, some 300,000 people sought their fortune in the area that is now Nevada County, California—some from gold and others from supplying miners with food. Working Lands showcases the stories of 12 local families who are still ranching and farming on the same land as their grandparents and great-grandparents, documenting the struggles and joys of taking care of the lands that feed us. 
(27 minutes)






Written on Water (2016)
Directed by Merri Lisa Trigilio, produced by Kaitlin Whitman and Bobbie Baird.

Feb 1 - G Three Bar Theater, 11:30am-12:45pm
Feb 2 - Northeastern Nevada Museum, 3:00-4:15pm
Feb 3 - Elko Conference Center Lamoille Room, 12:30-1:45pm

Against the immense, harsh landscape of the High Plains, innovators in places like Olton, Texas, fight to keep their towns alive against the decline of the life-giving Ogallala Aquifer. Here and in other communities sharing the Ogallala, the reality of groundwater decline is colliding with the legacy of independence and self-reliance that first turned the High Plains into a fertile dreamscape. Featuring spoken word by Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges.
(57 minutes).



Banner image, Deep West Video premiere 2015: Jessica Brandi Lifland