Dell City resident T.D. Pope and crew film his film within the film. l to r: D.P. Chris Norr, Grip Dee Carroll, Camera Assistant Zsolt Kadar, TD Pope. Photo Credit: Josh Carter.
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Tales from Dell City, Texas (2012)
Opened: 05/18/2012 Limited
|Quad Cinema/NYC||05/18/2012 - 05/24/2012||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
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A kaleidoscopic portrait of life in the remote desert town of Dell City, Texas (pop. 569--and dropping).
Like much of rural America, Dell City, Texas, just 70 miles east of El Paso, has been in a long, slow decline. A once thriving farm and ranch town with a population of several thousand, and an important water hub for the region, Dell City is down to a few hundred stubborn souls committed to life in what was once their desert oasis.
In his lapidary style, Producer-Director Josh Carter who grew up in Houston, Texas and attended Princeton University, catches Dell City on its way down, but not out.
Carter documents the downward spiral with an ingenious and generous approach by asking long-time residents what they would do if they were to make a movie about the town. Carter then produces the short films that they write and direct. Surprising and heartfelt, these films reveal unvarnished personal glimpses of an enviably cohesive community.
At Rosita's Cafe , the social epicenter of the town, Rosita Martinez has served breakfast, lunch and dinner for decades, cooking on the same stove (which was already 40 years old when she bought it). Ninety-one year old Jennie Teitsworth has reluctantly put her Cottage Bar up for sale, while Bonnie Larreau at The Sheepherder's Bar is staying put. "You love the land, you love the silence, it's just a way of life and you just love it," she says, though some days she has no customers as many of her "drunks have died--without paying their tabs". And there's T. D. Pope, a leathery, eloquent sheep rancher who finds no conflict in the joy he feels watching his baby lambs play and his love of a good lamb chop.
Notes Carter, "I chose Dell City because I love West Texas and I was fascinated by life in a rural community--a powerful archetype in American history and culture. In particular, I wanted to find out why people choose to live in such a remote, austere place." As schoolteacher Maria Holguin notes in one of the short films, she prefers Dell's small town friendliness to big town attitude, "You know you're getting close to Dell City when people start waving to you on the road."
Carter has worked as a writer, photographer, installation artist and filmmaker. He produced and directed the concert film Time's Up: Psychic TV at the Royal Festival Hall. He currently works in network television as a producer on the daytime talk show, Rachael Ray.
Carter never mocks nor sentimentalizes Dell City--neither do the films within the film. He catches the feel of the place and the plain-spoken humanity, the power of business as usual.
There may be resurgence in store for Dell City, or at least as an investment opportunity. Its water supply has become a valuable asset, especially for thirsty El Paso. As T.D. Pope observes, "what's under the ground may be worth more than what can be grown or raised on top." But even if Dell City doesn't become just a well for elsewhere, a meaningful way of life is coming to an end.