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‘Sweetgrass’ – Sheep as Far as the Eye Can See

Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ilisa Barbash, USA) (World Premiere)
Berlinale Forum, Friday, 13 February
Read the Forum synopsis

It is over – the last sheep drive into Montana’s Beartooth Mountains. Unbeknownst to anthropologists Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, they are filming the end of these biblical-scale migrations from lowland ranches to mountain grazing lands. Casualties not so much of environmentalist protection of public lands as the hard economic reality of declining sales of lamb.

Cowboys singing in the night, cursing in the day, as sheep will be sheep and grizzly bears try to eat as many as they can. Sheep as far as the eye can see. Lambs gamboling – they really do gambol, as we can see.

And the heartbreaking beauty of the American West, seen in a 360-degree pan as a cowboy calls home to his mother, crying in his exhaustion and pain. His horse skin and bones, dogs too tired to run. "I want to love these mountains, but I’m beginning to hate them."

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