The Last Buffalo Hunt

In Lee Anne Schmitt's documentary The Last Buffalo Hunt, Terry Albrecht guides hunter-tourist expeditions in southeastern Utah's Henry Mountains, which were until 1872 called the "Unknown Mountains." This far edge of the frontier, the last unnamed mountain range in the United States, is where the weathered cowboy assists his clients in shooting the area's few remaining bison. After more than 30 years in the business, Albrecht vows, every season, that this time will be his last. Riding with Albrecht's outfit, Schmitt surveys a barren landscape dotted by gas stations and, in one case, a lonely pair of road signs pointing the way to Paradise and Last Chance. As her camera plainly shows, the Wild West has long since been tamed, evident in a caricature of Buffalo Bill presiding over a casino-resort or cowboys frozen in animatronic effigy at a rodeo trade show. The film's critique of the region's commercialization is most pointed when we see a squealing middle-class woman fail to deliver a kill shot. Although she treats the hunt as if it was an amusement park, she's not the only one. The Last Buffalo Hunt parses the remains of Western conquest, the boom of expansion contracted into a desiccated, ghostly history. (Schmitt will attend the screening, part of a weekend series that also includes her California Company Town and two programs of shorts.) GENEVIEVE YUE

Sun., March 4, 8 p.m., 2012

 
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