Welcome To Nowhere!
This edition of “Cult Movie Monday” begins with a trip back in time before highlighting an acclaimed new film that is already getting Oscar buzz!
Some of you know by previous posts that I am fascinated by the ghost towns that are scattered across the United States: every state has them, due to changing demographics, transportation alternatives, or in this case, the departure of the only business in town!
Welcome To Empire, Nevada!
The town of Empire was founded in 1923; that was the year that Miners formed a tent city while mining a claim originally established by the Pacific Portland Cement Company in 1910.
The mining company U.S. Gypsum took over ownership of the town in 1948, and it became a place for their employees to live – all houses and businesses were strictly for their staff! That led to a maximum population of 750 in the early 1960s.
The Empire Gypsum mine was one of the longest continually operating mines in the US, operating for 88 years from 1923 to 2011…but then, times changed for the town forever.
In its heyday, the town had a graveyard as well as a church, a public pool, a 9-hole golf course, a post office ( zip code 89405), and even a small airport for light planes.
The town’s convenience store with a gas station was the only store for more than 50 miles.
Empire Becomes A Ghost Town…
When the recession of 2008 hit, the Gypsum plant in Empire struggled to survive, and ultimately closed its doors in 2011, eliminating 95 jobs.
After that date, Empire effectively became a ghost town. In response, the local ZIP Code, 89405, was also discontinued.
In 2016, United States Gypsum sold the town and the mine to Empire Mining Co., and the mine has been partially reopened, but it’s hard to imagine that this town will ever become more than a place for a few workers to live close to their job.
Now, you can see a bit of Empire thanks to an acclaimed new film:
“Nomadland” Begins An Oscar Run…
“Nomadland” is a new film directed by Chloé Zhao, who also wrote, edited, and co-produced. The film is based on the 2017 non-fiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder
The film has just been released in a small number of theaters and will gradually increase that exposure over the next few weeks and months…
Here is the film’s star Frances McDormand – she and the Director lived in vans while filming the movie, as did the crew. This powerful new movie tells the story of a woman who leaves her small town to travel around the American Midwest, living in her car…becoming part of a culture and life that is “Nomadland”.
Scenes were filmed in many impoverished areas in the US, including Nevada.
Here is a trailer for the film “Nomadland”:
Nomadland had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September, and also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on the same day.
The film won the Venice festival’s top honor, the Golden Lion. At Toronto, the film won the People’s Choice Award.
It was the first film ever to win the top prize at both Venice and Toronto.
This powerful new film will be nominated for all of the major Academy Awards this year, so search for it!
I shared another book that tells the story of people who have no permanent homes:
Author Richard Grant tells the story of the millions who live in cars, vans and RV’s…a vagabond life that some love, and others are forced into.
It’s a great book and you can read more about it here:
I have posted about dying towns in rural America, and even shared a few pictures of them during a day trip in Oklahoma:
I posted this story of life in rural America as a way to explain why Donald Trump may have resonated with them…they feel neglected and forgotten, and when someone promises to make things better, they believe them…sadly.
You can see my story about these dying towns by clicking on my story here:
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