Documentary film on Bakken life debuts Sunday in Billings

The documentary film “Makoshika,” about life in the Bakken oil fields, will have its Billings premiere this Sunday at 7pm at the Babcock Theater, and will also be shown at the Art House Pub and Theater on March 4-6 and 9-10.

Photo: High Plains Heritage Project

Photo: High Plains Heritage Project

The 50-minute documentary is a culmination of the High Plains Heritage Project, which we first wrote about 18 months ago, when four Montana jour- nalists set off for the Bakken to do in depth coverage of the past, present and future of the region.

According to David Crisp at Last Best News,

“Makoshika” is a beautifully shot film, moving at a relaxed pace from interviews with longtime residents of the area, to the impacts of the boom, to the bitter winter of concern.” (Director Jessica Jane) Hart said the goal was to examine the economic boom-and-bust cycles of the Western economy without taking a stand for or against oil production.

“I’m not pro- or anti-oil at all,” she said in Billings last week. Rather, she sees the film as a portrait of humanity.

For residents along the Beartooth Front considering how to prepare for a future oil boom, the film offers much to consider. From Makoshika’s web site:

Our story begins in summer 2014, when unprecedented development was in full swing, and concludes the following winter, as falling oil prices foretell a possible end to the boom. In this setting, small towns where residents once left their doors unlocked are overrun with workers vying for jobs in the oil fields, camper trailers sprawl across rural landscapes, and tight-knit farming communities inflate into boom towns. Competing interests and contrasting lifestyles of the characters weave together as they cope with the challenges and hopes of their environment.

Examining both the present boom and those since passed, Makoshika alternates between intimate first person narratives and historical commentary, asking viewers to look at the present through the lens of history. The film is a dialogue on the delicate balance between economic development and environmental and social justice from a diverse range of voices, and a portrait of a fascinating American region in transition.

With mild spring weather forecast for Billings this weekend, we recommend the journey.


Last Best News
High Plains Heritage web site
Makoshika web site
Tickets for the Sunday showing are $7.00, and are available online and at the door.
Makoshika comes from the Lakota “Ma-ko-shi-ka,” meaning “bad land.”

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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