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At once tender and unsentimental, Sweetgrass gracefully captures the beauty and hardships of a dying way of life. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

This spare documentary follows a group of shepherds as they guide hundreds of sheep through endless miles of Montana wilderness. Herding the livestock through the Beartooth Mountains, the crew covers stunning landscapes as they brave dangerous weather and the threat of various wild animals, including bears and wolves. As the shepherds make their journey, the film depicts the hardships that they face in their age-old occupation, which seems largely outmoded in 21st-century United States.

Cast & Crew

Illisa Barbash
Director

News & Interviews for Sweetgrass

Critic Reviews for Sweetgrass

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (2)

  • Though the tale of these wry, hard-bitten lives is told with neither music nor a narrating voice, the final effect is not to numb or confound the viewer but, rather, to cast a spell.

    May 26, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Strange to relate that one of the year's most striking cinematic experiences so far is a documentary starring 3,000 sheep.

    July 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • [The directors] portray something indelible by capturing the rancher's old-hand ways.

    September 24, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A tenaciously observed and a quietly absorbing ethnography about a pair of shepherds leading some 3,000 sheep on a 150-mile journey up into Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains for summer pasture.

    April 26, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The images, including sheep on the move up near vertical hills, are remarkable, the landscape spectacular, the unsentimental account of back-breaking, backside-aching work impressive.

    April 23, 2011 | Full Review…
  • This beautiful and hypnotic documentary shows the agony and the ecstasy of herding sheep up into Montana's Beartooth mountains for the summer pasture.

    April 21, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sweetgrass

  • Jun 24, 2011
    "Sweetgrass" is a stunningly photographed documentary about the process of sheep farming in Montana. The movie keeps the human subjects at a distance, giving us little chance to really get to know any of them. Instead, the natural scenery and the sheep are the true stars here and the one who looks directly into the camera knows that. In fact, he would like to file a complaint with his union representative about the working conditions. Yeah about that. Not much has changed in this profession since the 19th century. The cowboys still ride horses, camp out under the stars and rely on dogs for a lot of help in keeping the sheep in line. Cell phones are about the only indication that this is now the 21st century. And I should warn those of you expecting lots and lots of footage of cute sheep roaming around the mountains that there is a gruesome shot of an eviscerated sheep which speaks to the difficulty and frustration for the cowboys which is expressed in the most colorful language heard since "Deadwood" went off the air.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2010
    Beautifully lyrical documentary chronicles the last sheep drive into the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, a time honored tradition that has been going on since the late 19th century. A quiet, simple, elegiac ode to a forgotten way of life.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer

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