Like much of rural America, Dell City, Texas, just 70 miles east of El Paso, has been in a long, slow decline. A once thriving farm and ranch town with a population of several thousand, and an important water hub for the region, Dell City is down to a few hundred stubborn souls committed to life in what was once their desert oasis.
In his lapidary style, Producer-Director Josh Carter, who grew up in Houston, Texas and attended Princeton University, catches Dell City on its way down, but not out.
Carter documents the downward spiral with an ingenious and generous approach by asking long-time residents what they would do if they were to make a movie about the town. Carter then produces the short films that they write and direct. Surprising and heartfelt, these films reveal unvarnished personal glimpses of an enviably cohesive community.
Carter never mocks nor sentimentalizes Dell City—neither do the films within the film. He catches the feel of the place and the plain-spoken humanity, the power of business as usual.
There may be resurgence in store for Dell City, or at least as an investment opportunity. Its water supply has become a valuable asset, especially for thirsty El Paso. As one resident observes, “what’s under the ground may be worth more than what can be grown or raised on top.” But even if Dell City doesn’t become a well for elsewhere, a meaningful way of life is coming to an end.
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