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A Modern Western

Documentary Sheds Light on the Plight of America’s Wild Horses


Traveler and his mare Alfa lived in Disappointment Valley, Colorado, before a large wild horse roundup pulled them apart. Traveler and Alfa are two wild horses whose lives director James Kleinert portrays in his film Disappointment Valley … A Modern Western. Kleinert’s film introduces America to the Bureau of Land Management’s policies on corralling wild horses and the effects these policies have of the populations of wild horses in the West. Celebrities Viggo Mortensen, Daryl Hannah, and Sheryl Crow, and other avid horse lovers speak in the film about their concerns for the new practices that threaten to harm wild horses.

Deanna Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West, expressed interest in the film as a way of getting the issue out on a larger scale. “Why are we, a cowboy nation, killing the horse we road in on?” Stillman asks as the central theme to her book.

The film also addresses the government agencies that participate in the process of removal of horses from the plains. Kleinert allows the viewer to see how these agencies play a role, and also allows these agencies to express their opinions on the subject.

Stillman’s book and Kleinert’s film delve into a controversial issue and bring light to government practices concerning wild horses. Disappointment Valley … A Modern Western will show at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Monday, February 8, at 4:45 p.m. at Metro 4 Theatres and again on Thursday, February 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Victoria Hall Theater.

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