Deep in the California Badlands, east of the dying Salton Sea, lies the remains of an old artillery base. Abandoned for decades, there’s little trace of the machinery of war. In its place, an unlikely settlement found its roots, clinging to the stripped concrete slabs that the desert does its best to swallow. This is Slab City - The Last Free Space.
It’s always been a unique community, a kinship and culture flourishing in the dust. But now, more than ever, the desert whispers salvation to those looking to escape society. Everyone’s got their own story, some choose to call this ramshackle mecca home; others don’t have a choice.
Nothing’s ever come easy to those that find themselves on the Slabs. Decades of human waste and scattered military ordnance make this a poisonous and dangerous place to live. Its inhospitable nature keeps the developers, local authorities and the lazy arm of the law at bay. Still, many make this their permanent home, living in trailers and tents with no electricity or running water. Together, they brave the extreme conditions - the sandstorms, the searing heat of the summer, the freezing nights of winter - so, as they gather around the fire, they can take solace in the fact that they answer to no one.
The Last Free Space trains its gaze on this golden-lit wasteland, a world that is as harsh and unforgiving as it is tender and majestic. In moving portraits of its inhabitants, we’ll find beauty and hope so close to despair, forcing us to wonder about the true cost of living a free life.
A film by Clara Tägtström
Executive producer Steve Angello
The Last Free Space