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‘Bitterbrush’ Trailer: Female Ranchers Redefine the Term Cowboy in Western Documentary

Exclusive: Emelie Mahdavian's Telluride breakout documentary premieres in theaters June 17 from Magnolia Pictures.



Alejandro Mejia, AMC

Two women, hundreds of cows, and one wide-open landscape: The documentary “Bitterbrush” follows cattle ranchers Hollyn Patterson and Colie Moline as they spend their last summer herding cattle in remote Idaho. IndieWire exclusively premieres the trailer, below.

Off the grid with only their dogs (and horses and cows) as companions, Hollyn and Colie look toward their next steps, with dreams of owning their own ranch someday dwarfed by the money, tenacity, and grit necessary to fund their own futures.

Emelie Mahdavian (“After the Curtain”) directs the feature film, which premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival. “Bitterbrush” premieres in theaters on June 17, followed by a VOD release on June 24. The feature is distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

“Bitterbrush” was deemed an “under-the-radar documentary gem” by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn coming out of Telluride. Director Mahdavian’s non-fiction study of the stereotypical cowboy genre through the eyes of two cowgirls challenges the archetypes for the Western genre, galloping on the hides of Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning “The Power of the Dog.”

Campfire scenes of “Bitterbrush” spark a new flame by being paired with Bach; the sensitivity and intimacy of cattle work additionally shed new light on what being a Western rancher really is all about. In an IndieWire review of the doc, critic Kristen Lopez praised the film for leaning into the contradictions of its key subjects and the determination to adapt to their surroundings no matter what.

“If there are challenges to face, they find ways to adapt or believe that ‘God will provide,'” Lopez wrote. “For two women so closely bound to nature, it’s not surprising they believe things will work out in the end, no different than the sun rising every day…It’s a beautiful irony to see Hollyn and Colie flanked by giant mountains and open plains that threaten to swallow them up as they travel in search of cattle. As much as they’ve removed themselves from the modern world, they seem just as isolated in the grandiosity of nature as they would in any urban environment.”

“Bitterbrush” will debut in theaters June 17, followed by a VOD release June 24. Wavelength, Concordia, and Old Chilly serve as producers.

Check out the exclusive trailer below.



Magnolia Pictures

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