Sweetgrass & a Vanishing Way of Life

“In 2005, Montana ranchers drove the last band of sheep through the Absaroka-Beartooth Pass for summer pasture. The trip marked the end of a centuries-long journey and the waning of a traditional way of life. Sweetgrass, a film by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash (a husband-wife team of visual anthropologists currently working at Harvard), documents one of the last of these journeys with lush, yet unsentimental intimacy.” — Annie Strother, PBS Newshour

Sorry to show our bias here, but the PBS Newshour is clearly a national treasure, and they keep getting better and better. We have also become fans of their website, and in particular Jeffrey Brown’s Art Beat page. Annie Strother just posted a wonderful piece there on the new film Sweetgrass, including an extensive interview with the film makers. PLEASE take a look at the trailer — if you’re like us, it will get you scrambling to see where it’s showing in your area. Luckily the official website for Sweetgrass includes screening information.

Sweetgrass took over seven years to complete. “We never interviewed anybody. Nothing was scripted. We never directed anybody. We never asked anybody to do anything again,” Castaing-Taylor says, “what that kind of film methodology demands is this unbelievable kind of patience.

If this film is as unsentimental as Annie Strother indicates, it looks like an important part of the West’s heritage has been captured. Can’t wait to see it!



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