Filmmaker In Focus: The Ballad of Lefty Brown [Video]

The Ballad of Lefty Brown world premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in the Narrative Spotlight section. Take a closer look at this Western with our Q&A with director Jared Moshe. The Ballad of Lefty Brown starts playing in theaters Friday, December 15. Be sure to check out our red carpet coverage from the premiere!

Q: Tell us a little about your film?

JM: The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a coming-of-age Western for a 63 year old cowboy. Aging sidekick Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) has ridden with Eddie Johnson (Peter Fonda) his entire life. But when a rustler kills Eddie, Lefty is thrust from his partner’s shadow and must confront the world’s ugly realities to bring the killer to justice.

Q: What motivated you to tell this story?

JM: The idea for The Ballad of Lefty Brown grew out of my fascination with the unappreciated. The men and women relegated to supporting roles in other people’s epic stories. Lefty Brown is an old man, lanky with white hair and intense eyes. His wide-brimmed hat flopped on his head, and his lips in a half-formed smile. He waits alone in a one-room jail, atop a gnarled wagon or in the muck behind a saloon. He’s Walter Brennan or Andy Devine or Hank Worden – the fool, the crank, the comic relief. Yet this joke of a man has been entrusted with guarding a prisoner, protecting the food and defending the hero’s back. I wanted to understand why. This script was developed with the belief that there is an intrinsic strength in these characters, and that becoming a “sidekick” was a conscious choice.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

JM: I hope to encourage my audience to question the stories and myths that they hold true. Whether it’s ISIS, gun violence, productivity culture or the American Dream, we use stories to hide from truths we’d rather not face. The Western has always provided a fertile ground for storytelling, capturing the innate conflicts of American identity and enabling us to dig into modern day problems in a historical setting. The Classical Western provided us with a creation myth. The Revisionist Western asked us to reconsider our identification with it. With The Ballad of Lefty Brown, I’m embracing the myth while accepting the brutal history beneath it.

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