Well-developed Westerns, in this writer’s estimation, are those that undertake a multi-faceted approach toward any examination of “progress”; be it with historical Westerns charting Euro-American expansion westward or contemporary Westerns examining the land and resource issues of today.
The Next, Best West (2011) is a 36 minute documentary film that examines both our current notions of progress and the disconnect from the natural world that many now experience both in the West and beyond. The film pushes forward the idea that the “American Dream” of unending progress is at practical odds with the resources required to sustain that chosen lifestyle. To develop its argument, the film traces the changing relationship toward the land since the first non-Indigenous American settlers arrived in the West some 150 years ago.
Image from The Next, Best West (2011)
The Next, Best West shares the experiences of those in the American West who pursue a regenerative approach to the local environment as a way of sustaining both the land and those (human and otherwise) that depend upon it. The following is a promotional clip for the film:
The film premiered at the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Nevada City, California in January of 2012. That annual event, set in Nevada City, California, is a leading environment and adventure film festival.
As the Western genre is literally grounded in the geographic region of the North American West, these ongoing discussions of the land itself have the potential for exploration within the genre, specifically within contemporary Westerns set in the present.
Further information about the documentary can be found at: The Next Best West
For more information on the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, click this link: Wild & Scenic Films
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)