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. Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor spent three summers in Montana documenting the process by which sheep are raised, ranched, sheered, and driven hundreds of miles to graze in high pastures of Sweet Grass county. The mode is strictly observational, and there is plenty to see—and hear. Sweetgrass is routinely awe-inspiring and often hilarious. As David D’Arcy reported from the Berlin Film Festival where the documentary had its premiere, “the sheep aren’t just in the landscape, they are the landscape.” The Big Sky country has never looked more spectacular—or, thanks to the ranchers as well as their animals, sounded more cacophonous—and, after Sweetgrass, it will never look the same. —The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Beautifully documents "the end of a way of life — another wondrous American ritual and tradition, largely lost to the contemporary world." (Mike Willmington, Movie City News) Though I wouldn't call it boring, don't watch if you're sleepy otherwise, you may end up having to rewind a few times.
While Frammartino's recent work seems to capture more intriguing sheep imagery, Sweetgrass does paint an amazing contrast of creatures placed within forced positions. The handling of the lambs seems devastatingly harsh in the hands of these Montana ranchers, but only before we observe the shepherds in the unforeseeable hands of nature and time! Amazing moments of natures' rough nurturing and harsh disregards!
This incredible experimental doc is now out in the US; we talked to the filmmakers at Locarno.
Also: An audio interview with Kubrick (1966) and Wenders, Friedkin, Andersen and more discuss “How Los Angeles Invented the World.”
"One way of approaching Cinema Scope, to me," writes editor Mark Peranson, "is as a curated work that has always straddled the boundary between