March 1 — Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years
The film is a documentary portrait of New Mexican writer Max Evans author best known for The Rounders and The Hi Lo Country (both made into feature films). The film is the story of Max’s improbable life from teenage cowboy, to soldier in WWII (Max landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day), to struggling small ranch owner, to mining speculator, to painter working in the artists’ colony of Taos, and finally to his real calling a writer who chronicles the ever-changing, complex life of ranchers and cowboys in contemporary New Mexico. Max was a renowned bar brawler, drinker and raconteur for most of his life. The success of The Rounders led Max to Hollywood where he developed a life-long friendship with Sam Peckinpah, acting as a “script doctor” for him and other Hollywood directors. He later was instrumental in forming the New Mexico Film Commission, the first such state agency in the US. As a teenager, Max was largely untaught and was highly influenced by reading Balzac, Chekov, Tolstoy and Shakespeare – copies of whose work he found on a rancher’s bookshelves. His writing is in his mentors humanist, tragi-comics tyle, not the standard Western shoot ‘em ups. His achievements, while highly recognized by his peers, are largely underappreciated in the world of American literature. The film attempts to revive an interest in Max novels and short stories and elevate his reputation.
Lorene Mills is a journalist with a PBS interview show called Report from Santa Fe. Over many years she has interviewed Gore Vidal, Jane Goodall, Isabel Allende, Gov. Bill Richardson, Senator Tom Udall among many others. After interviewing Max Evans about his life and work many times, it was Lorene’s dream to make a film about him.
David Leach is a veteran film editor. His recent credits are Grab A Hunk of Lightning (about the photographer Dorothea Lange) and Dying to Know (about Timothy Leary and Ram Dass).
Paul Barnes is an editor and producer who worked with Ken Burns for over 30 years. He won an Emmy for producing Unforgiveable Blackness about the boxer Jack Johnson.