A film by Matthew Gentile
1875, Indian Territory.
Bass Reeves, is the first African-American to be deputized by the U.S. Marshal service. His wife, Nellie Jennie Reeves, tries to persuade Bass not to leave for his own safety, but Bass argues that it’s the best job he can get to keep a roof over his family’s head.
When Bass charges into the desert, he engages in a shootout with two outlaws, Maha and Glen Huddleston, also African-American. Bass kills Maha in the gunfight, and arrests Glen, ordering him to carry Maha’s body across the desert back to Fort Smith.
Over the course of their journey, Glen questions Bass’ choice of career and tries to psych Bass out in an unorthodox attempt at escape, a tactic that works as Bass begins to question his own mind in regards to the idea of justice and choosing to fight for a law and a country that may never fight for him.
2017 | 13 min | Color | USA | 2.40 | In English
Screens as part of the shorts program No Control and The Palaver Tree Selections program.
Matthew Gentile is a Los Angeles-based writer and director. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he earned a BA in English & Film Studies from Connecticut College and an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute.
His AFI thesis film, FRONTMAN, won the 2016 Student Emmy for Best Directing from the Television Academy Foundation, as well as the Dolby + Vizio Vision Award at AFI Fest. FRONTMAN went on to play over fifty film festivals around the world, winning a dozen prizes.
Off the strength of the film, Matthew was selected to direct a short film through the Kyoto Filmmakers Lab in Japan, which aired on NHK.
Currently, Matthew is working on his first feature, AMERICAN MURDERER. He recently completed a proof of concept short based on this script with Jonathan Groff (MINDHUNTER) and Amanda Crew (SILICON VALLEY).
Matthew Gentile, Director
Josh Aichenbaum, Writer
Kalilah Robinson, Cinematographer
When we think about the Old West certain names immediately spring to mind:
The bad guys: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
And the good: Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp.
And with them the places and events that we can never forget: Tombstone, Dodge City and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
But one name you never hear mentioned is that of Bass Reeves.
Bass served as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in one of the most violent and dangerous regions of the Wild West. He spent more than three decades as a peace officer and during that time brought in more than 3,000 outlaws, a record that should have garnered him a reputation of mythic proportions.
But Bass Reeves was black. So history moved on.
Marginalized and ignored though he was, Bass has not been completely erased. His exploits and adventures are there to be discovered for those willing to look. Bass was an integral part of the fabric of the Old West, and it’s time that history gave him is due.
BASS REEVES is the greatest hero of the Old West you’ve never heard of.
This is his story.