Director Magali Pettier Release Date Selective UK screenings
ADDICTED TO SHEEP – part of Underwire Festival’s eclectic program last weekend that could not be more different from the previous evening’s THE VIOLATORS – is charming, frank and surprisingly touching for a documentary about sheep farmers. It offers a comprehensive look at a family striving to rear the perfect sheep in the north Pennines, battling the elements both physical and economical. Their reality is a tough one, and at times feels painfully bleak (amplified in the un-minced words of the children when questioned about the realities of living on a farm at school). Although Tom and Kay make jokes, and are incredibly endearing to ‘be around’, rearing sheep is their life’s vocation and is never taken lightly.
This unobtrusive documentary by Magali Pettier deceives appearances; it is not as slow and steady as a Northumberland accent but at times bursting with life and energy. And it is just as brazen with death, summed up most poignantly in a truly harrowing scene which sees a Yow (female sheep) suffer complications whilst giving birth, resulting in the lamb being literally wrenched out of her by the farmer whilst he wrestles to keep the distressed mother on the ground. It’s a sad moment that, we realise, is just part and parcel of living in this environment.
This is Pettier’s first attempt at a documentary feature, but she’s clearly got a knack for honest observational filmmaking. What is presented in rough, bland packaging proves to contain a sweet and sensitive undercoat that is ever more pleasurable to watch unfold.