This short documentary from The Grasslands Project introduces us to nineteen-year-old Shawn Catherwood, who knew from a young age that he’d be a farmer. Many small communities are losing their young people, attracted to careers away from the farm. But it’s always been Shawn's dream to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ken. This film shows Shawn and his father as they navigate the coming generational change, while the audience is given insight into their deep love of the family farm.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project depicts the annual celebrations that take place in countless small communities across the Prairies. These small-town gatherings are a major force in keeping rural communities vibrant. In Magrath, Alberta, this is the weekend when everybody comes home to participate in chicken chases, family reunions and massive community barbecues. We follow the celebrations through the actions of key volunteers, who are the cornerstone of these events.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project shows how small rural communities rely on volunteer firefighters to handle most emergencies. While the Eastend Fire Department responds to its share of barn and grass fires, they are only a call away from tragedy. Rural first responders are usually first on the scene of grisly farm and motor vehicle accidents, and in a small community the victims are often friends and family. The toll it takes on these volunteers creates its own tragedy.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project explores the struggles of small Prairie farms. “These small farms are a thing of the past,” laments Herb Pidt, whose family homesteaded on this land in the 1920s. The Pidt family scraped a living out of these harsh, dry prairies and, though poor, always managed to put food on the table. But that era has come to an end, and, as Herb touchingly explains, he’s the last one on the farm and there’s no one left to keep the home place together.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project introduces us to Aline Laturnus, the women who puts in long hours to keep the Val Marie hotel running. Breakfast is at seven a.m., and some nights the bar doesn’t close until two. This hotel is more than just a business: it’s the hub of the community, and Aline knows that closing the establishment would deal this small town a major blow. We follow Aline as she prepares for a big night, and we learn about the importance of the hotel from the people of Val Marie.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project brings a female perspective to the male-dominated ranching and farming industries. Women often have a strong voice in the operations, and some women have been running their own ranches for decades. For this collaborative documentary, the participants themselves chose the themes to be discussed and then interviewed each other. These women are deeply dedicated to their farms, ranches and families. They can ranch as well as a man... maybe even better.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project introduces us to rancher Miles Anderson. Anderson is in a tough spot. The land he ranches has been in his family for over a hundred years, but it’s bordered on three sides by an expanding Grasslands National Park and its conservation imperative. Cattle were once considered a major threat to grasslands integrity and the endangered sage grouse in the region, but, due in large part to Miles’ persistence, his cattle are now seen as part of the conservation solution.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project zooms in on the Prairies' francophone minority. The southern Prairies are overwhelmingly anglophone, yet a strong and vibrant francophone population persists in the small rural communities that dot this landscape. Gravelbourg is considered the centre of French language and culture in the region, and this short film hears from the Fransaskois (a term combining French and Saskatchewan) on the challenges and future of their unique prairie culture.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project is a portrait of Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan. The town has lost all four of its grain elevators, the railway was torn up, the old hotel is in ruins, and the school has been closed for a decade. One of the only attractions left is the community hall, which, on a scant few weekends out of the year, can still get crowded. Meanwhile, to the handful of kind souls who still live in the village, there are good reasons to call Wood Mountain home.
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project zooms in on the southern Prairies' spectacular landscape, which has inspired artists for thousands of years. Five prairie artists from across the grasslands region take us to the places that move them. This film explores the landscape through the words and works of these artists and reminds us that the natural world exerts a powerful influence on both our creativity and spirit.
This short documentary profiles an imaginative inventor and craftsman who makes whimsical stringed instruments out of unlikely items. In his hands, shovels, rakes, baseball bats, and stop signs become beautiful and functional guitars, violins, banjos, and fiddles.After a near-death experience, retired machinist Lorne Collie embarked on his creative journey, and this heartening film offers a folksy, one-of-a-kind portrait of Collie's spirit and talent. Through weathered doc footage and hand-crafted animation, the film shows that Collie is having more fun than he’s had in a long time and feeling more than alive.
Renee Thompson is trying to make it as a top fashion model in New York. She's got the looks, the walk and the drive. But she’s a black model in a world where white women represent the standard of beauty. Agencies rarely hire black models. And when they do, they want them to look “like white girls dipped in chocolate.”
The Colour of Beauty is a shocking short documentary that examines racism in the fashion industry. Is a black model less attractive to designers, casting directors and consumers? What is the colour of beauty?
This film is part of the Work For All series, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, with the participation of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Ages 11 to 18
Family Studies/Home Economics - Adulthood
Health/Personal Development - Careers & Education
Media Education - Documentary Film
Social Studies - Communities in Canada/World
This short documentary from The Grasslands Project is about 19-year-old Shawn Catherwood and his father, and how Shawn is growing into the role of farmer. The film can be used to prompt class discussions, essays or research projects. Useful for exposing students to a variety of careers. Great starting point for research around the issue of young people leaving farming communities for other careers. What factors tend to keep young people in the farming communities they were raised in? What factors tend to lead to their departure?