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Where the Yellowstone Goes is therapy for the frazzled urbanite. The 2012 film, directed by Hunter Weeks, documents a 30-day float down the lower 48 states’ longest undammed river, and it’s about as soothing as the real thing. Which is pretty much the point: The film, financed by environmental firm Trout Headwaters Inc. and the Montana Office of Tourism, is essentially a public-relations tactic for the Montana wildlife industry. But it’s an effective one. Where the Yellowstone Goes begins when Robert Hawkins, a fourth-generation fly-fishing guide, tells Weeks that he’d always dreamed of floating the river—just because it’d be kind of neat to do something like that. Several months later, Hawkins, Weeks (who also directed the epic, yet formless, mountain-biking film Ride the Divide), crotchety cook John Hall, and adventurer Shannon Ongaro pack up a raft and a driftboat and hit the waters with a youthful production team adept at capturing picture-perfect backdrops and nuggets of stoner wisdom (“Eastern Montana’s a big place, man”). There’s not a lot of action here, of course—or at least, action that doesn’t involve sheep—and it’s skimpy on character development and storyline. But it does show what’s at stake: Hundreds of miles of natural habitat, some of it remote and very near pristine, is threatened every moment by riverside development. A float through the site of the 2011 Exxon oil spill on the Yellowstone makes that gravely clear.
The film shows at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. $12 in advance, $15 at door. arlingtondrafthouse.com. (703) 486-2345.