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January 7, 2013

Film looks at value of ag land

Trail Dance Film Festival brings variety

DUNCAN — “Losing the West” tells the story of land that was once wild and tamed only by ranchers and farmers who understood its necessity to society, yet is now being taken over by urbanization.

Told through the perspective of Howard Linscott, a lifelong Colorado cowboy, the film, which is to be one of the featured full-length films during the Trail Dance Film Festival at the Simmons Center, Jan. 25-26, explores how population growth and commercial land development is affecting rural areas.

“I was investigating issues that are relevant to a lot of neighbors (in Colorado), who are working ranchers,” said Alexandra Warren, director of the film.

“What resonated with me is the rising land value and that agriculture is becoming more valuable.

I would actually see many neighbors going through hard times and have to sell their land for more development.”

Warren was born in Denver, Colo., and is now a California resident, however, when she and her husband were able, they bought ranch land in Ridgway, Colo.

“Losing the West” began on their land and expanded it to look at how these essential issues of land and food affect all of us.

“I found it difficult to approach the subject in a riveting way,” said Warren. “I met this cowboy, who was already in his 70s, and he just embodied the west and was enigmatic to me. It occurred to me that following him and his life that I could put a face and personality on the land.”

Linscott is described by Warren as the strong, silent type, however, the stories he tells in the film resonate with people all around the world. What evolved throughout the filming process was this isn’t a story just about Linscott and the West, but it’s everyone’s story.

“What I like to say is that it starts from one cowboy’s point of view then broadens out to a potentially global point of view,” Warren said.

“We’re seeing that loss of land and natural resources and we explore some of what you can do about it in the film; it weaves in and out of the story.”

Along with Linscott, Warren interviews several experts such as Micheal Bennet, Colorado U.S. senator; Jon Wooster, president of U.S. Cattlemen’s Association; and Patricia Limerick, faculty director for Center of the American West.

“There’s hope to put (western culture) back and we offer ways that are evident when you look at them,” said Warren. “However, the direction our culture is taking us is going the opposite way.”

Although she has held well-received screenings of the film, Trail Dance is the first film festival it has been entered into. After much research, entering seemed the logical.

“It seemed like a really good fit from what I could find through research because of the connection through the western subject and association with the Chisholm Trail,” said Warren. “I’m really excited and even might bring my daughter.”

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