Sweetgrass, which opened in January at the Film Forum in New York, has gained universal praise as not only one of the finest new documentaries, but, as one critic put it, the “best Western of the last 20 years.”
Of course the picture isn’t a Western in the traditional sense, but it is about one of the last sheep drives, a traditional event in the lives of a group of cowboys—a Norwegian family and their hired workers. Rancher Lawrence Allested and his herders move some 3,000 sheep 150 miles up Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth mountains, fighting the elements, fatigue, predators and an uncertain economic future. The documentary focuses on Lawrence, Elaine Allested, John Ahern and Pat Connolly.
The film is probably as close as any movie could get to an authentic portrayal of what pioneer cowboys really went through on those drives, minus the cell phones and a few other modern accessories. The movie will be touring throughout the spring and the dates and places can be found on SweetgrassTheMovie.com, while trailers and clips can be found on YouTube.