A graceful, gorgeous, and atmospheric look at traditional shepherding.

One of my favorite aspects of film is how it can introduce us and indeed embed us in lives we’d otherwise never know. I’m a Caucasian cis male Southerner in his late-30s, a story that’s been told 12 billion times on screen, at least. But on certain occasions I’m a woman trying to shatter the glass ceiling, or an immigrant trying to make a new home in a hostile land, or a black man forced to fight for respect, a lesbian forced to do the same, or a small child learning the way of the world. Movies make me all of these things, if only emotionally and for a brief time, they open windows of experience that I would normally never have access to, and while seeing these things is never the same as living them, they do enable me to better understand the lives and trials of others, in turn hopefully making me a better citizen, person, and friend.

This idea is what initially piqued my interest in Drylands, an atmospheric short film from Pau Minguell that depicts an evening in the life of a traditional sheep herder in the Catalan region of Spain. What held my interest, however, was the stark grace of the film, its silent and subtle emotionality, and the way it captures an entire lifestyle in mere minutes. Drylands is doused in solitude and pregnant darkness, though Minguell keeps us in twilight, seemingly comparing the harmony between man and nature to that of day and night: mutually exclusive except for brief overlaps that produce the most beautiful moments.

Like life, Drylands is a collection of events at a certain time, it’s a narrative thread, not a rope, and it’s as open-ended as every night. It is also exquisite filmmaking and an experience worth having. I implore you to press play.

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