Reclaiming the West

Forests are burning, rivers are drying up, the climate crisis is already palpable in the American West. Faced with western failure to sustainably manage natural resources, the first inhabitants are taking their land back and working to restore endangered ecosystems.
Our film is a road trip following in the footsteps of those who lead this tribal and ecological re-conquest of the American West. From the Yurok people who lit fire in the forests of Northern California, to the Blackfeet Tribe who brings the bison back on the great plains of Montana, from the First Nations who are reviving traditional aquaculture along the Northern Pacific Ocean to the scientists who work alongside them to quantify and measure this traditional ecological knowledge, we will discover how ancient practices are used again to restore damaged forests, prairies and coastlines.
Together, those unique stories tell a bigger one: how native people had figured out a sustainable way to manage natural resources and how this knowledge is being rediscovered today.

  • virginie Goubier
  • virginie Goubier
  • Catherine Rouault
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    La Reconquête de l'Ouest
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    53 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    62,500 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Canada, United States
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
    Country: France
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - virginie Goubier

Virginie Goubier is a French filmmaker who’s been living in California for 11 years before relocating to France in 2022. She is particularly interested in subjects that evolve around ecology, history and social justice movements.
Her recent work is a series of short documentaries she has produced and directed for ‘City, Country, Culture’ a cultural and discovery program on the European Public TV network ‘ARTE’.
In 2018, she wrote and directed a 25 minutes documentary about the justice system and the controversial practice of ‘sentencing videos’ in the US.
In 2022 she directed a documentary ‘Fighting fire with fire’ featuring CalFire, and the Yurok and Karuk tribes, that was Broadcast on ARTE.
« Taking the West back » is Virginie’s first featured documentary.

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Director Statement

When I was living in California, I experienced the smoke and fog caused by wildfire every summer and fall and I started to learn about the indigenous practice of low intensity burns. The more I read about native history and traditional knowledge, the more I got amazed by the vastness of ecological knowledge the first inhabitants had acquired. That’s how I got hooked into that subject. I talked with many passionate tribal members and learned about so many different and innovative projects that native communities were leading to restore their ecosystems or reclaim their food production. Being from a European descent, I decided that I had to study and report of those projects. It was also humbling and eye opening to realize that those ancient practices, after being wiped out by 200 years of colonization and an industrial revolution, were once again making sense in the XXIth century.