14 user 57 critic

Sweetgrass (2009)

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In the summer of 2003, a group of shepherds took a herd of sheep one final time through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, in the extreme north-west of the United States. It was a journey ... See full summary »


Ilisa Barbash (uncredited), Lucien Castaing-Taylor (uncredited)
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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In the summer of 2003, a group of shepherds took a herd of sheep one final time through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, in the extreme north-west of the United States. It was a journey of almost three hundred kilometres through expansive green valleys, by fields of snow, and across hazardous, narrow ridges - a journey brimming with challenges. The aging shepherds do their very best to keep the hundreds of sheep together; the panoramic high mountains are teeming with hungry wolves and grizzly bears. Written by International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Last Ride of the American Cowboy


Unrated | See all certifications »


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France | UK | USA



Release Date:

22 April 2011 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Open: BeComing Animal See more »

Filming Locations:

Montana, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,235, 29 January 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$206,728, 7 November 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

In the end credits, the very last entry reads "In Memoriam The Raisland - Allestad Ranch Wild Cat Creek, Sweetgrass County, Montana 1900 - 2004" See more »

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User Reviews

8 January 2010 | by jsmith1480See all my reviews

At one point in this wonderful work, the camera is high in the Montana Beartooths above the cowboys with their 3000 sheep coming up the mountain for some good-weather grazing. The woolies are getting to be all over the place and you see a lone cowboy in the saddle with the help of a few sheepdogs corraling the herd purely by the way he moves his horse around and by the calls he makes. Gracefully and neatly he tightens up the herd and turns it in the direction he wants the little bleaters to go. He creates a fence invisible 'round his woolies.

It's that kind of skill, no, art that is so evident in these guys: keeping order in the herd, whittling rough branches for the spines of their tents, sleeping with one ear open for sounds of bear and wolverine, sharpshooting in the night aided only by lamp. These guys do it all and well. They can also midwife a ewe in the crisis of giving birth, find an udder for an orphaned lamb and cleanly, expertly fleece these critters when the wool is heavy.

These cowboys never get rich inspite of a bagful of skills and talents that leave the viewer in respectful admiration. Watching the travail of these guys makes you realize you have never in your life known the true meaning of "hard work."

This is a documentary without any taped-on background music and without any warm-toned narrator telling you what you're seeing. Not even Morgan Freeman. The footage tells the story without extraneous aids. The absence of other noise is welcome. This piece is awesome but it's also funny, not just in the humanity of the cowboys. There's some real comic talent among those woolies, too. Jim Smith

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