Joey L. Opens the Wilderness for Hostiles
The United States of America’s history with Native Americans is rife with blood and conflict, a horror story filled with terror and shame. It’s a history that every American must contend with as a part of our shared heritage, and one of the best ways to approach that education is through storytelling – even if the stories are fictitious. Late last year Hostiles debuted at the Telluride Film Festival, with a larger national release on December 22. The film stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi, and depicts a collection of white Americans escorting a dying Cheyenne war chief to his homeland in Montana in the late 1800s. The film was shot in New Mexico, where Joey L met the cast to photograph the key photography for the project. Joey was able to grab portraits of each of the main actors including Jesse Plemons, Ben Foster, and Adam Beach.
Shooting in New Mexico afforded Joey L the luxury of a kind of untouched wilderness. From a metropolitan point of view in 2018, it’s easy to forget that even just over 100 years ago, the US had a kind of wildness that has since been largely sanitized not only by urban spread, but also by technology that arrests anyone from getting lost. Part of what makes western stories so captivating is the experience that any danger can be on the other side of a hill, the mysterious stranger we meet could threaten any life, and there is no savior on the other end of a cell signal. Joey L uses the expansive wilderness to great effect, calling up all those desperate risks, allowing the landscape to unfold into mountains in the distance that are then absorbed into the clouded sky. In each solo portrait, each character stands in the grassy expanse, profoundly alone. In the group shot, they move together through the same landscape, alone together, working towards a single goal despite whatever conflict undoubtedly will disrupt their efforts.
The full story is told in Hostiles, but Joey brings pieces of it to the key art the studio used for promotional posters found in Times Square, and dotted all over the country.
Hostiles is out now at theaters nationwide.