Malheur Occupation Doc 'No Man's Land' Examines Oregon Standoff (Exclusive Video)
"In America, we tend to reduce people to ideology and, in that process, strip them of their humanity," says director David Byars of the timely title.
The citizens of Burns, Oregon are shaken to their core in The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive clip of No Man’s Land.
The documentary, which will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, recounts the conflict when armed protestors in Oregon occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to air their frustrations with the federal government.
“Being here with all of this honestly has scared me, and it shouldn’t,” says a teenage girl. “I should not have to be scared in my own hometown.”
Directed by David Byars, the doc zooms in on the impasse and its instigators, occupation leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy.
“The townsfolk of Burns, Ore., are kind, pragmatic people who were dealing with a highly complex, emotionally laden event. Some were against the occupation, some were pro-Bundy and some were simply fearful of what was happening to their community,” explains Byars. “All were mourning the loss of their collective innocence in a situation in which they were forced to choose sides.”
Even more so, the doc is a snapshot of what can happen when the government and civilians disagree about what’s best.
“In America, we tend to reduce people to ideology and, in that process, strip them of their humanity. Simple and abstract absolutism is a very attractive belief system, but its very appeal lies in its failure to acknowledge nuance,” says Byars. “The widespread adoption of this dogma has landed us squarely in the false dichotomy in which we've found our nation so contentiously embroiled. By living with the characters in No Man's Land, audiences will walk a mile in the shoes of those whose ideologies they perhaps oppose at their very core, but come away with a deep recognition of common humanity.”
No Man's Land premieres Thursday at Tribeca. Submarine is handling sales.