While assembling the line-up for season 2 of Saddle Up Saturdays, no title excited me more than Meek’s Cutoff, directed by one Ms. Kelly Reichardt. Kelly is as thrilling a filmmaker as we have working today. From her brilliant first film River of Grass, through Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, and up to the recent Certain Women, it has been clear that we’ve got a major American director in Kelly Reichardt, who has been flying just below the radar of media attention these past years, while calmly creating a truly original, entertaining, and formidable body of work. Certain Women gathered some sweet awards and hit lots of top ten lists this past year, so Ms. Reichardt is most definitely finally appearing on the media radar in a most welcome and pleasing way. When introduced to Kelly at the New York Film Festival’s presentation of Certain Women last fall, I mentioned amidst my gushing that we were screening her highly-praised but not widely-seen western as part of the Saddle Up series and—nothing ventured, nothing gained—invited her to attend our screening on February 11 at high noon. Kelly Reichardt has accepted the invitation and will be with us on the 11th for a post-screening audience discussion, along with the writer of Meek’s Cutoff, Jon Raymond! This is kind of a coup, pardners. Looking forward to a packed room and another terrific JBFC encounter with one of the fiercest talents working today in cinema. See you there! – Jonathan Demme
The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and three families have hired the mountain man Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) to guide their wagons over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, he leads them on an unmarked path across the high plains desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the would-be settlers face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and lack of faith in each other. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, they are torn between their trust in the unreliable Meek and a man they’ve always seen as their natural enemy. With Michelle Williams and Paul Dano.
Presented in 35mm