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3.8
281 Ratings

Sweetgrass

France, United Kingdom, 2009
Documentary

Synopsis

This breathtaking chronicle follows an ever-surprising group of modern-day cowboys as they lead an enormous herd of sheep up and then down the slopes of the Beartooth Mountains in Montana on their way to market. Call it an abstract Western or the last round-up.

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Sweetgrass Directed by Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Awards & Festivals

Independent Spirit Awards

2011 | 2 nominations including: Best Documentary

Village Voice Film Poll

2010 | 2nd place: Best Documentary Feature Film

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2010 | 2nd place: Best Documentary

The dominant sound throughout SWEETGRASS is the clanging of the cowbells hung around the sheep’s necks, along with the rush of a nearby stream. Over time it becomes maddening, but it is necessary to enter the shared lifeworld of the cowboys and sheep, to understand the symbiosis that allows them all to partake in a ritualized existence.
February 15, 2017
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Sweetgrass follows a long line of documentary films focused on cultural practices on the decline in a world of global capital and accelerated technological development. But through thoughtful cinematography and sound design, the directors avoid romanticizing the sheepherders and their business, while dutifully presenting the awesomeness of the Montana backcountry and the remarkable spectacle of 3,000 sheep.
February 23, 2016
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The inclusion of sync-sound from radio mikes in shots where the subject is a mile or more away from the camera provides an estranging sense of entering into a sheepherder’s stream of consciousness, eavesdropping on semi-verbal monologues to himself, a horse, a sheep. This occasionally jarring and paradoxical relationship between the immensity of the seen world and intimacy of the heard mouth and throat is among the film’s most memorable qualities.
March 05, 2014
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