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The ByGone


Nearly a year after his mother’s sudden accidental death, Kip Summer (Graham Phillips) is a quiet and lonely young man in search of company, a connection with someone to dull his emotional pain. For the first time, he considers buying the services of a prostitute. But upon seeking the services, he is disturbed by the violence that he witnesses of a customer beating up a girl in the next room. As fate would have it that evening, Kip’s life now becomes entangled in the troubled life of the beautiful Laura/Waniya (Sydney Schafer). Feeling sorry for Laura, Kip offers her a safe place to stay. However, Laura’s sociopath pimp, Paris (Shawn Hatosy), is extremely upset that his prized girl left, and no one goes him because he owns them forever.

Laura and Kip build a bond as they share their love for horses riding as they ride amongst breathtaking Western landscape beautifully captured by David J. Myrick. And a brief moment, Laura is enjoying life like her Lakota people. Kip’s father, Hadley (Jamie McShane), is curious about this new girl and is concerned about how Kip met her. Kip and Laura get closer, but the harsh reality of her life is about to come crashing down on them.

Hadley is now very concerned about Kip’s involvement with Laura/Waniya. Hadley begs his son to drop the girl as she’s not worth the trouble, giving a foreboding hint that he knows more about her and sex-trafficked girls like her in the area. What is particularly disturbing in The Bygone is the targeting of Native American women and young girls as sex slaves are owned and purchased by brutal, corrupt white men. The only female in the film who is not a victim of the flesh trade is Ms. Call (Irene Bedard), the owner of the Hope House shelter, an essential place of healing for victims who escape prostitution. The focus of having so many women in the film who were prostitutes demonstrated what most women’s worth was in that scenic western town, and just how problematic prostitution is there.

In a remarkably dark twist of the last 30 minutes of The Bygone, I believe it will resonate with the audience on a deep physiological level. But I hope that we truly realize that no one is safe from the predators of human trafficking.

Graham Phillips co-wrote and directed The Bygone with his brother Parker Phillips. Together, they shed light on a centuries-old systematic abuse of native American women, and the current well established and profitable sex-trafficking industry that affects women in this country, especially those in remote areas and from indigenous populations. The Bygone is a well-made crime drama Western, which features some beautiful moments, and terrifying aspects of the victimization of young women who are brutalized physically and mentally and used until they are of no value to their owners. And like a real Western ending, the girl and the hero ride off on his beloved white mare.

Simone Cromer
Twitter: @theatreofzen

Gravitas Ventures released THE BYGONE on VOD on November 12 on numerous platforms including iTunes, Prime Video, VUDU, Google Play, Vimeo, Comcast, Direct TV, Dish Network, Verizon Fios, among others.
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