Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: The Rifleman | Sierra Pettengill

Through meticulously assembled archival imagery, “The Rifleman” reveals the roots of the modern National Rifle Association, U.S. Border Patrol, and the gun lobby’s unyielding influence on national politics.

Directed by Sierra Pettengill

Produced and distributed by Field of Vision

Running time: 18 minutes

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

The Director

Brooklyn-based Sierra Pettengill’s archival films explore the haunting of America’s present by its past.

In 2017, she co-directed and produced the all-archival film The Reagan Show (Locarno Film Festival, CNN). Other recent work includes her all-archival short films: The Rifleman for Field of Vision, about the U.S. Border Patrol and the NRA (2020); Business of Thought, about New York institution Artists Space (Sheffield Doc/Fest); and Graven Image, about Stone Mountain, the largest Confederate monument in the U.S. (True/False 2018). Graven Image is on view at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Sierra’s debut Town Hall was co-directed with Jamila Wignot and broadcast nationally on PBS in 2014. That year, she produced the Academy Award-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer, which also won the News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Documentary. She has worked extensively as an archival researcher, including on films such as Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women. She was a 2017/2018 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow, a fellow at the MacDowell and Yaddo Artist colonies, and writes frequently about film for publications including frieze magazine and Film Comment. Most recently, she directed an episode of the 2020 Netflix series Trial By Media.

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