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I Am Roby

At the crossroads of somewhere and nowhere is a tiny, little town called Roby.

Most people pass through Roby going somewhere else. It has been declining in population for over 70 years and the projection for the next census is another decline. What makes it unique is that it’s my hometown. Who hasn’t gone back for their class reunion or to a house they used to live in and sheepishly knock on the door? For me, the place was Roby. I moved away 30 years ago after graduating from high school. Since then I’ve traveled the world, seen things, met people. I never thought I’d experience being a kid from a small town. I currently live in Connecticut and work and go to school in New York. But now I’m drawn back to my hometown.

I Am Roby is a documentary short film that explores a small town in Texas as it slowly decreases in population from 673. With the 2020 census approaching, the question becomes, What’s next for Roby? Drawn to the thought of my hometown dying, I went back and began to interview and collect the stories of Roby. Being back now, I don’t even recognize it. Places that were a huge part of my life are gone and so are the people. I’ve discovered new and strange things in my exploration of Roby, like there used to be a train connecting Roby to North Roby. I didn’t know there was a train or a North Roby! I also discovered how farming technology advanced to the point that farmers are working more land with less help, causing the decline in population (“Mechanization of farming killed the small town,” said Cecil King, retired mayor and banker); that the founding families continue to live there (“I like to refer to myself as a fifth-generation farmer,” said Hailey Moore, 18 years old); and even what people do for fun in a small town (“We used to steal watermelons on Saturday nights…and have watermelon fights,” said Freddie Stuart, farmer and founding family member). I Am Roby is an exploration of small town life and its people.

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2023 Vancouver Film Festival Selection
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