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Kelly Reichardt and ‘First Cow’ Cast Talk the Movie’s Tender Moments at NYFF Press Conference

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Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow is one of the most heartwarming films on the festival circuit this year. On its own, it speaks about ownership and what success means to different people, but Reichardt and stars John Magaro and Orion Lee have more insight on what the film addresses and how it came to be.

Loosely based on the novel Half-Life by John Raymond, First Cow is about the friendship that grows between two men navigating the Oregon territory in the 1800s. Cookie (Magaro) and King Lu (Lee) meet while Cookie is traveling with unforgiving fur trappers and King Lu is on the run from a group of Russians looking to murder him. Cookie takes King Lu into the trappers’ camp and hides him without hesitation, but it seems like their friendship is shortlived when King Lu runs away.

Their chance reunion happens after the two are settled in an Oregon compound. King Lu invites Cookie to his shed and the two begin making a home together. They concoct a plan to milk the first cow in the territory and bake oil cakes to sell at the nearby trading post. Their success is more of a risk than they bargained for, however, and their friendship is tested, as is their survival.

Reichardt first read Half-Life when it came out in 2004. Over the subsequent 15 years, she and Raymond slowly collaborated on adapting it for the screen. One of the things that changed for the movie version was giving the titular cow a bigger role than it has in the book.........

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