American Nomads

Synopsis: Well done BBC Documentary focusing on drifters, drop-outs, tramps and RV snowbirds, squatters, hermits, cowboys and Indians in the American Southwest. Very interesting stories on how and why many became nomadic, and what the lifestyle means; all done without judgment or glorification.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Gerry Troyna
  1 win.
90 min

This film contains

some strong language.

'Wanderlust. Restlessness.

'The urge to get out on the road

and ride off into the sunset.

'It's something deep and elemental

in the American spirit.'

Someone once asked Gertrude Stein

to define America in a sentence.

And, er... conceive a space

filled with moving.

That's very much

how I think of America today.

'This is a journey in search of American nomads.

People who live a life of constant travel.

'Who are they and why do they choose

to live this way?

'Why are there so many of them,

especially in the American West?

'I first got to know them

as a fellow traveller.

'I lived on the road for years

'and wrote a book about the nomadic

tribes and cultures I met along the way.

'Now I have a rented house

in Tucson, Arizona,

'but I can't seem to spend

more than three weeks there,

'or anywhere else,

without wanting leave. '

Every time I come home...

to, you know, the electricity bill

and the gas bill

and the internet bill

and the phone bill

and the cellphone bill and

the water bill and the sewage bill

and the credit card bill

and the truck payment

and the truck insurance

and the renter's insurance,

I kind of remember about, er...

all those years

I spent without an address.

Without any bills,

without any financial obligations,

um... living in my truck,

um... staying with friends,

spending a lot of time

just sleeping on the ground.

That was my big ambition

when I was a young man,

to spend as many nights as possible

sleeping in the dirt.

'So let's get back out there.

'These south-western states

are the best place to find nomads

'during the winter months, but there are no

guarantees. You can't plan a journey like this.

'We're looking for nomads, and by

definition, they're all on the move.

'So we're going to drift around on the

highways and hope to cross paths with them.

'I have faith in the serendipity

of the road,

'but bad things

can definitely happen.

'Some of these nomads

live outside the law.

'Some of them will be armed,

some of them will be crazy.

'Some of them, I hope, will be

sweet, lovely and inspiring.

'But it's not an easy life

out there.

'You have a lot of freedom on the road, but there's

a much higher level of danger and hardship. '

You get a little snapshot

of roadside America here.

TTT Truck Stop.

And, um... a good place

to find hitch-hikers.

You get motorhomes

stopping through here.

Truckers stop to take a shower.

Take a rest.

And when the weather's a bit warmer,

you find...

..well, girls working these trucks,


selling blowjobs and what have you.

'I've spent a lot of time in truck stops like this.

And most of the time, it's perfectly calm and safe.

'But things can happen so suddenly

and unexpectedly.

'Moments ago, this hitch-hiker

just had a brush with death. '

Give me a minute. All right.

First he pulled out a knife,

started hitting me with it

when it was collapsed.

Then he pulled out a gun.

At one point, I'm screaming,

"Help! Help!" out the window.

I thought I was going to be dead.

I'll never make the same mistake.

You carry a gun when you travel.

What sort of gun would be ideal?

A big one. A big gun?

A big one so nobody fucks with you.

You don't have to hit nothing

with it. Just start running.

Or pull out a bazooka.

I don't... I'm a Buddhist.

I've taken a vow of non-violence.

And the guy was scary.

I'm bigger than him.

Why was he scary?

Agitation, you know.

I'm going to find my dad,

tell him I love him.

Tell him I'm stupid.

Go to church.

I'm going to go to church.

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