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Uncertain Wests: Kelly Reichardt, Settler Sensibilities, and the Challenges of Feminist Filmmaking

  • Susan Kollin EMAIL logo


Director Kelly Reichardt has been celebrated as an independent filmmaker who takes risks in developing complicated and often fraught storylines, especially for her female characters. In Meek’s Cutoff (2010), she uses the aesthetics of slow cinema to show details frequently overlooked in the Western. In doing so, the film lays bare the violence of the settler-colonial West, highlighting the underside of European-American dreams of progress and prosperity. Addressing settler women’s investments in nation-building projects, the film traces how their commitments to Whiteness helped underwrite expansionist history. Noting the limits as well as the forms of agency White women claimed in the West, Reichardt pushes the boundaries of the women’s Western in ways that foreground Indigenous lives and the possibilities of decolonization.

Corresponding author: Prof. Susan Kollin, Department of English, Montana State University, 2-176 Wilson Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA

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Published Online: 2020-04-02
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

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