The experimental nonfiction film Grassland uses stop-motion animation, live action footage, text fragments, and expressive sound to excavate the stratigraphic layers of belief, ecology, practice, and geology that form a northeastern Colorado landscape. Carved out of decimated ranch lands during the Dust Bowl, the grassland is both a conservation zone and a working landscape. Cattle grazing, nuclear missiles, hydraulic fracturing, and wind power generation co-exist within a few miles of each other. Less explication than essay, the film locates the grassland in historic and geologic time, ranging over changing frameworks of law, ideology, and cosmology, variable and contradictory human practices, and the material and geological forces of the land itself. Meditative original footage of the grassland merges with collage animations created from diagrams, drawings, and found photography to portray the refuge’s subterranean activities, from well drilling to missile storage to soil sedimentation. The resulting nineteen-minute film is a poetic and unsettling portrait of a complex, evolving place.
Three-minute excerpt at left.
Sarah Kanouse, “Grassland,” experimental nonfiction film, HD video, 19 minutes 15 second, 2019.
Sound design and mix by Jacob Ross
Juror’s Citation, Black Maria Film Festival, Hoboken, NJ
Best Cinematography, Artists’ Forum Festival of the Moving Image, New York, NY
Honorable Mention, Experimental Forum, Los Angeles, CA.
Mimesis Documentary Film Festival, Boulder, August 2022
Black Maria Film Festival 39th Annual Festival Tour 2020
Big Muddy Film Festival, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, February 2020
Artists’ Forum Festival of the Moving Image, New York, NY, October 18, 2019
Public Space One, Iowa City, September 30, 2019
Rhizome DC, Washington DC, October 12, 2019
Cineautopsia, Bogotá, Colombia, August 17, 2019.
Twisted Oyster Film and Media Festival, Kefalonia, Greece, May 9, 2019.
Experiments in Cinema, Albuquerque, April 18, 2019