Sweetgrass (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Official poster
Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Produced by Ilisa Barbash
Cinematography Lucien Castaing- Taylor
Distributed by Cinema Guild
Release date
  • February 4, 2009 (2009-02-04) (Berlin)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sweetgrass is a 2009 documentary film that follows modern-day shepherds as they lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. It was directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, a Harvard anthropologist, and produced by his wife Ilisa Barbash. The title derives from Sweet Grass County, one of several in which the film was shot.

Production and premiere[edit]

Recording first began in the spring of 2001, when Barbash and Castaing-Taylor first heard of a family of Norwegian‐American sheepherders in Montana. These herders were among the last to trail their band of sheep long distances through Montana's mountains.[1] After 8 years of filming and development, it premiered at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival. Since then it has regularly screened worldwide and distributed theatrically by Cinema Guild. In the United States, it premiered at the New York Film Festival, and in Montana at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, where it received the Big Sky Artistic Excellence Award.

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97%. The website's critical consensus reads, "At once tender and unsentimental, Sweetgrass gracefully captures the beauty and hardships of a dying way of life."[2] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[3]

Film critics have praised the film as "an anthropological work of art,"[4] focusing on its aesthetic minimalism, such as a lack of music and narration.[5] The film is a New York Times Critic's Pick and a Washington Post Critic's Pick,[6] and Manohla Dargis of The New York Times described it as "the first essential movie" of 2010.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Recordist’s Statement | Sweetgrass
  2. ^ "Sweetgrass (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Sweetgrass Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  4. ^ Koehler, Robert (Fall 2009). "Features | Agrarian Utopias/Dystopias: The New Nonfiction". Cinema Scope. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  5. ^ Lane, Anthony (January 11, 2010). "Hard Days and Nights". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. p. 82. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (May 21, 2010). "Movie review: 'Sweetgrass' follows Montana sheepherders on final grazing drive". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  7. ^ Dargis, Manohla (January 6, 2010). "Montana Cowboys Lead, Coax and Cajole Their Charges Amid a Chorus of Bleats". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 

External links[edit]