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Once Upon a Time in the West

The desert is an unforgiving place. Harsh sunlight beats down on the dry hills of the Tabernas Desert, located in Almería, Spain. Towns and water are far apart - cities are over an hour away by car. As the hot air shimmers, you can almost swear that you see a lone figure on horse, ridding into the town of Tabernas to dispense justice with his quick trigger figure.

And you wouldn’t be wrong. Tabernas was a sought after location for film crews in the 1960s and 70s, and many iconic Westerns such as Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone’s classic “A Few Dollars More” were filmed in the town or in surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the downturn in demand for Westerns in the last few decades has seen this iconic shooting location become increasingly like a real-life ghost town as people have departed this beautiful but remote region for other parts. And that’s where ŠKODA rides in to save the day.

 


A Fist Full of ŠKODA

In the days of the American Wild West, isolated local communities were tied together through the stagecoach lines, which brought passengers, mail, and necessities to isolated communities.

ŠKODA is also lending its expertise and experience to creating a free modern-day stagecoach in the Tabernas Desert. This project is a Spanish project in collaboration with ŠKODA headquarters. As Albert García, Marketing Manager at ŠKODA Spain explains, “one of the objectives of ŠKODA is to help towns affected by depopulation, because they are difficult to access or have transport problems.”

For residents of these towns, transportation is just as important today as it was in the Wild West. Residents need transportation to get supplies, to commute to work, and to stay connected with their families and other communities. ŠKODA has experience solving these kinds of problems. In 2015, ŠKODA donated a vehicle to the town of Valdelinares, the highest town in Spain to help connect residents with the outside world.

A Return to the Past

 

But ŠKODA is not satisfied with merely lending a car here or there, or helping people traverse the high desert. The automaker is also throwing its weight and rugged reputation behind projects that support the economic development in this region.

One of the highest priorities and best economic opportunities hinges on preserving the region’s rich film history with the hope of attracting new directors and film crews to those scenic vistas.

“The Almería Western Film Festival has been held in the last 7 years. With it, we want to show what Tabernas used to be in its heyday, the current events in the western genre and, above all, we want to show that we have the necessary potential to keep shooting films like we used to in the past”, says José Díaz, Mayor of Tabernas. ŠKODA is a major sponsor of the festival, which serves as a reminder of the glory days.


Let’s get this stagecoach rollin’

ŠKODA is also launching a new project designed to raise interest in the Tabernas region with its own Western film shoot, entitled “The Desert Cowboys”, which features the stories of Tabernas’ residents in their own words as they battle against the isolation imposed by the region. Some residents such as Elisa, who rely on sharing a ride with neighbors in order to buy groceries several kilometers away. Others, such as Adela (a professor in Tahal), have to commute vast distances in order to get to work. The film captures their experiences through the codes of a Western movie.

When the film reaches 5 million viewers, ŠKODA will then put the stagecoach in motion. So watch the film, and let the residents of the Tabernas ride into the sunset!