It's a difficult balancing act to make a really solid low budget film. We're all so spoilt by huge casts, big effects, stories written by committee and endless reshoots to fix any gaps or problems in the storytelling. Indie movies have few of these luxuries. Although high-res cameras are more accessible it's basically a crap shoot when it comes to finding decent actors to tell your story. And that is unfortunately what has happened with Alta Valley.
It has its strengths; the storytelling is fairly compelling. A female led western where the lead is a half indigenous woman looking for her birth right, and the funds that go along with it so she can save her terminally ill mother. There are twists, nasty villains and some gun toting action.
Unfortunately, there is a significant mismatch between the cast members who are decent actors and those who aren't. And those who don't quite meet the cut are bad enough to bring the whole production down.
It's a real shame, because Alta Valley has a lot going for it. The lead actress Briza Covarrubias gives a sterling performance as Lupe. The backdrops are stunning and wild, taking full advantage of the New Mexico landscape. The story also tries to address issues of continued exploitation, racism and unbalanced resources. Especially the continued stealing of land from indigenous populations. One hopes that there is enough going for Alta Valley that director Jesse Edwards can continue to tell such stories, with fewer financial restraints.
Alta Valley aired at the Nashville Film Festival and is awaiting a general release