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Representations and studies of gentrification largely focus on its impact in urban centers. Urban gentrification brings change in an urban area associated with the movement of more affluent individuals into a lower-class area. However, rural gentrification has been overlooked in documentary representations of gentrification. Rural gentrification occurs when wealthier people buy property in ranch and working-class areas, driving up property values. Both contexts share the difficult paradox that gentrification brings money into the impacted area, but it often comes at the expense of poorer, pre-gentrification residents who cannot afford increased property costs or taxes. The mountainous west of the United States has been an area of intense development in recent decades and many aspects of its character have changed with shifting demographics as a result of rural gentrification. This thesis, titled 'Rural Gentrification,' examines the unique role of documentary film in demonstrating the impact of rural gentrification through the eyes of, John Hoiland, one of Montana's last independent ranchers, who is the subject of my film 'For the Love of Land'. The film tells the story of finality, disappearance, and what it means to be the last of something in this rapidly-shifting terrain while bringing attention to that tragic position that these last remaining personalities of the old west find themselves in as the world around them changes. 'Rural Gentrification' argues that there is an urgent need to create visual representations of the mountainous west of the United States using documentary film against this backdrop of rapid change. Using 'For the Love of Land' as a case study, I trace the significance of observational cinema as a significant influence that informed the decision-making process and creation of the film.
For the love of land is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.