There’s not much, you might think, to entertain you in a documentary about a farming family in the north of England, but there you’d be wrong. Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s exactly your thing, but it probably isn’t to most people, including me. Indeed, I’m a vegan right now, so while I may not economically support farming myself, that doesn’t mean I can’t respect this occupation when it’s done with care and thought, as is clearly the case here. The film loosely structures itself around a year in the Hutchinson family’s farm (their names aren’t used much in the film, at least not that I recall, but there’s a husband and his wife, Tom and Kay, and their children). He is the one with the addiction of the title, breeding Swaledale sheep, although that turns out to be just a hook, as over its running time the documentary imparts a much fuller sense of the farm than merely the sheep. There are other animals, there’s the farmhouse, and there’s the kids and their education, in occasional scenes from the small local schoolhouse, where the children of farmers talk about what they love about their rather remote and hard-working lives. The film doesn’t shy away from the rather more unpleasant matters, like the death of the animals (whether due to nature, or from the farmers’ hands), but for the most part it’s a film about an increasingly obscure profession (at least, when done properly and not industrialised for maximum profit) and one which is often vaguely romanticised, though here it’s shown without adornment. You may not be addicted by the end, but it’s fascinating all the same.
Director/Cinematographer Magali Pettier; Length 86 minutes.
Seen at Picturehouse Central, London, Monday 31 August 2015.