SXSW LOSING THE WEST: What Will We Sell Before the American West is Gone


SXSW is reaching deep and pulling on their cowboy boots with LOSING THE WEST.  Filmmaker Alex Warren has created an American documentary that examines the transformation of the iconic old west that was rugged, thriving, and a natural habitat for so long.

Warren explains that, “We decided the best way to anthropomorphize the land was to follow the life of a livelong, seventy year-old cowboy.” He defines the importance by noting, “It starts with his perspective and a time when vast open spaces were the norm.

From there we broaden out to examine the bigger picture of land conservation, development, the food chain and the future of our nation and species. The end result is a commercially viable, entertaining film with an imperative message that speaks to all people, from all walks of life.”

Warren also finds, “Our society is trying too hard to sustain an unsustainable way of life.  It’s time to come together to protect the land that needs to be protected, the fertile land and the open spaces that preserve the habitat and migration patterns of wildlife.”

One of the great aspects of this film is that rather than having an anti-development outlook, it embraces that this movement is inevitable and necessary with population growth heading in an exponential direction.  However, this film encompasses the idea of looking at our future in an informed and intelligent way that lends solutions to this issue that can benefit us all before the inevitable change damages some areas beyond repair.

The idea of this change is not meant to make a person sad but is rather just part of truth and reality today.

To give you more insight on the details of the film; the American West is the central character.  The land itself is a rough and tumble territory famous for its pastoral majesty and for men equally as rough and tough and defined by their hard hands and gruff voices.

Paint an image of the Wild West in your mind; all the way down to the original Marlboro man and your imagination will be on track with this documentary.  As LOSING THE WEST addresses America losing 6000 acres of open space a day due to the perpetual influx of millions into land historically reserved for farming and agriculture.  It becomes vastly apparent that the cowboy country world is disappearing. Fast.  With the realization of what seems to be an inability to stop this progression of land loss; the American West way of life and noble traditions are being put out to pasture.

LOSING THE WEST captures the significant story of a sacred society threatened with extinction and an essential industry, on which we all rely, put in mortal peril due to the disappearance of natural resources. The film is a vital audit of America’s values and addresses some of the most important issues of our time.

These issues beg the question, in the face of increasingly turbulent economic times, why would farmers and ranchers continue their grueling lifestyles when the monumental rise in the value of their properties makes cashing out their best, and sometimes only, prospect? Who will be left to grow the nation’s food as population continues to soar? And who will fill the roles as stewards of the land as concrete paves over our dwindling fertile ground?

The documentary reaches to the heart of the audience in that it is a story bigger than one person.  If fact this film, in some ways, is everyone’s story.  It tells of changing times, a national identity in flux, and a push to the brink by inevitable change.  This is something we all have experienced either on a personal level or beyond. In the simplest terms we adapt or die.  The film does not preach but rather begs its’ audience to consider the impact of the paths we choose at this crucial moment of constant change our world spins around. It begs the question of what we are willing to sell; as one man says, “There are just some things not for sale. Being a cowboy’s not for sale.”

photo credit:

Brook Bentley
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