Emelie Mahdavian’s powerful documentary follows two range riders living and working against the backdrop of the beautiful, remote American West.
Emelie Mahdavian’s sweeping film Bitterbrush masterfully captures the grandeur of the American frontier through the perspective of Hollyn Patterson and Colie Moline, two experienced range riders who are spending their last summer herding cattle in the remote and rugged mountains of Idaho. Totally off the grid with only their dogs as companions, Hollyn and Colie brave inclement weather and perilous working conditions while questioning their purposes and contemplating their futures.
Holly Patterson and Colie Moline (right) in Bitterbrush, a Magnolia Pictures release.© Photo By Alejandro Mejia, AMC. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
“I wanted to tell a story from the community where I lived,” says director Emelie Mahdavian, who met Hollyn while living in rural Idaho.
“Not only was it obvious that these women were really interesting people doing fascinating work, but they were tough, living for long stretches beyond phone reception without utilities, sometimes out on the range in very inclement weather on pretty treacherous terrain. It was immediately compelling.”
“Having followed Hollyn and Colie as they worked, I have great admiration for them,” Mahdavian says. “They are educated women who eschew materialism in favor of a life enriched by their spiritual beliefs, their time spent on the land, with each other and with their animals. At the same time, their work can be brutal, exhausting, and lonely.
Hypermasculinity permeates their world. In the face of this, they tell me they are sustained by the vistas, their faith, and the feeling of knowing you’ve completed a job well done. My intention was to render all these aspects of life with nuance and subtlety. I wanted to carve out a cinematic space to feel the world through their eyes.”
A quiet-but-powerful portrait of friendship, life transitions, and the work of two exceptionally skilled and resourceful young women against the isolated and beautiful landscape of the American West, Bitterbrush is an intimate and attentive portrayal of a nomadic way of life rarely seen on film. The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in 2021.
Bitterbrush is coming to a theater near you on June 17 and will be available on demand anywhere you rent your movies starting on June 24.
View the trailer here.
To learn more about the film and see Hollyn and Colie in action,
visit the film's official website at bitterbrushdoc.com