A North Dakota rancher comes to the aid of an exploited Native American woman in a socially conscious thriller set for release Nov. 12 on streaming platforms.
Even in a contemporary western, a man’s still got to do what a man’s got to do. In The Bygone, an independently produced drama set for a Nov. 12 release on iTunes, Prime Video, VUDU, Google Play, Vimeo, Comcast, Direct TV, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, and numerous other platforms, a new breed of hero carries on the time-tested tradition of refusing to be dissuaded, or intimidated, from riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress.
Graham Phillips of TV’s Riverdale and The Good Wife stars as Kip Summer, a young man struggling along with his father to keep their North Dakota cattle ranch afloat. Still coping with the recent loss of his mother, Kip seeks comfort at a nearby brothel, where he comes to the aid of Waniya (Sydney Schafer, pictured above), a beautiful yet downcast Native American girl, when she is harassed. When he discovers she has nowhere else to go, Kip brings her to the safety of the ranch.
The following night, however, two headlights roll up behind Kip's truck. A man dressed in black approaches Kip — and brutally assaults the young rancher, leaving him unconscious. When Kip awakens, dawn is breaking — and Waniya is missing.
The next day, the county sheriff tells Kip that his assailant was Paris (Shawn Hatosy of TV’s Southland and Animal Kingdom), a notoriously violent pimp who’s wanted for murder. The lawman advises Kip to abandon his search for Waniya, and leave the matter to the proper authorities. Not surprisingly, Kip pays little heed to this advice.
Graham Phillips co-directed and co-wrote The Bygone with his brother, Parker Phillips, and issued with him this statement of purpose regarding their drama, which recently screened at the Austin Film Festival:
“The inspiration for The Bygone was born from the grim effects of the recent oil boom in North Dakota. Beyond the environmental impact of the fracking itself, the boom brought a wave of lawlessness to a region not suited to respond to the flood of tens of thousands of predominantly male workers.
“Along with the drugs, violence and crime, this wave brought a heightened market for the sex trade, which disproportionately targeted and exploited young Native American women — our country’s most marginalized demographic, made vulnerable by centuries of disenfranchisement, discrimination and sexual victimization.
“It is compelling that natural resource extraction has once again led explicitly to the disruption of indigenous peoples and their culture, a narrative that echoes the gold rush and is as old as the foundations of America itself.
“The film explores the tension in this relationship within the modern western landscape, following a North Dakota cowboy and a Lakota girl as they attempt to survive in a land increasingly hostile to the Old West.
“In shedding light on the lawless shadows of our country, we learn how we have progressed as a nation and what has remained unchanged, exploring the contemporary status of age-old relationships: East vs. West, Land vs. Industry, Cowboy vs. Indian, and ultimately the Future vs. the Bygone.”
Here is a trailer for The Bygone.