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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 epic drama looks at the opening of the Canadian West and the drought that led to the Depression in the Thirties. It is the saga of a family who left Eastern Canada to stake their future in the Prairies. Principle roles are played by Frances Hyland and James Douglas.
For more background information about this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.
This short documentary takes a look at the changing face of PEI's agricultural industry. Once famous for its spuds and red mud, this tiny island province now has higher than average cancer and respiratory illness rates. Is there a link to industrialized farming? Rather than dwelling on PEI’s worrisome monocropping practices, Island Green dares to ask: What if PEI went entirely organic?
The stirring words of PEI-born poet Tanya Davis are coupled with beautiful imagery and poignant stories from the island’s small but growing community of organic farmers, reminding us that we can rob the land only so much before it robs us of the nourishment we need for life. Island Green is ultimately a story of hope and healthy promise.
This Emmy-nominated feature film is an intimate and evocative journey into the hearts, minds and eyes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo - 3 of the 20th century’s most remarkable artists. The film uses the women’s own words, taken from their letters and diaries, to reveal 3 individual creative processes in all their subtle and fascinating variety.
Ages 13 to 18
Geography - Territory: Agricultural
Media Education - Documentary Film
Social Studies - Communities in Canada/World
In this short documentary from The Grasslands Project, residents of Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, talk about the town now that the grain elevators, railway, school and hotel have been closed. This film can be used to prompt class discussions, essays or research projects. What events or forces caused the most profound changes in farming communities over the past century? What were the results of those changes, positive or negative? Why did the grain elevators shut down in Wood Mountain? What are some other Canadian towns that have had their main source of employment taken away? Where do the majority of jobs come from in your community?