WHEN IT’S GOOD, IT’S GOOD (Documentary Short)

Mexican-American filmmaker Alejandra Vasquez returns to her hometown of Denver City, Texas, to document the effects of the boom-and-bust economic cycles of the oil industry on the single-source economy of that town.  Denver City is in West Texas, just Southwest Lubbock, near the New Mexico border. It is in the middle of nowhere if you look on a map.

As with many industries, there are definite problems, sometimes very serious problems, but frequently the abundance of wealth it provides erases most if not all opposition to it.  For instance, the oil industry (similar to the cigarette industry) affects people’s health.  But the oil industry also has extreme economic cycles to contend with that definitely affect their wealth. For many, this is the only thing they know. So they stay with the same jobs they’ve had for decades and usually generations within the same family, very much locked in due to lack of education or any other experience.

Vasquez documents the nature of the economic effects via short interviews and shots of various businesses around the small town, many of them shuttered during one of the severe slumps (2020) only exacerbated by the pandemic.  She lists how many grocery stores (1), churches (10), gas stations, restaurants, etc., exist, careful to mention that many close down when things go wrong.  When things are good, everyone flourishes.

During the busts, which happens about every four years, many people move out and find other employment and don’t return.  Others wait it out and enjoy the good times with many riches and few worries.  This short will give you a peek into different perspectives on how these extremes are handled and even a little on how it affects their politics.

The short documentary is 16 minutes long. The imagistic cinematography alone makes it a worthwhile watch.

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