It's a Way Of Life, Not Just a Place

A Montana Documentary on Barbara Van Cleve and how her family’s expansion in Montana intertwines with the history of the American West.

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About The Documentary

The West was settled by non-native newcomers through sacrifice and loss, risk and reward. The Van Cleve history has all of that.

The Land

The landscape of the West is now changing, and the desire to own it is growing.

As time passes, the main role of the land remains. It knows no permanent keeper yet feels the history of settlers, both Native and from other parts of the world.

The Life

The reality and the beauty of life in the west, with its endless horizon, draws the traveler and the rugged free spirits alike. This life promises freedom and prosperity to settlers past and present.

Award-winning Director and Cinematographer Cynthia Matty-Huber is known for her films that capture the American West’s rugged beauty and vanishing lifestyles. While completing her MFA at Montana State University, she discovered her passion – creating films that are a tribute to the hard-working individuals who devote their lives to the West. Since then, Cynthia has built her own production company CR Matty Films, and has begun filming ‘Barbara Van Cleve’s American West.’

Director's Statement

This is the story of how Barbara and her family have left their mark on the land of the Crazy Mountains. Her story reflects the history and lifestyle of the state that I now call home. I have great respect for what the Van Cleve’s built for themselves but ultimately sold.

By using an observational style of filmmaking, viewers will get to experience Barbara’s vision of the West. I push to find the beauty between camera, subject, and moment.

Call for wranglers!

We are currently looking for wranglers who have worked sometime during the 1960s-1980s and would like to share their adventures while working with Spike Van Cleve. Please reach out via email!

The Progress

Barbara Van Cleve's Photography