This Swedish documentary introduces us to elderly sisters, Britt and Inger. The pair own roughly a dozen cows on the run-down dairy farm where they grew up. Older sister Britt lives and works there even still, loving the time she spends with her animals, despite the toll years of milking have taken on her broken body. Inger, meanwhile, longs to be away from the farm altogether, wishing instead to spend more time with her daughter and grandchildren, especially now that her husband has passed.
Both women are refreshingly candid; the wisdom of their years shining a light of truth into their past, and adding perspective to their present. While they each spend most of their time arguing and dismissing one another, the love and bond between these two sisters still manages to shine through most clearly. Even when they don’t agree – at all – about the cows, the fact is that they still love one another deeply, and it’s that shared sense of purpose and protection that drives the heart of this film. Through photos, film clips and reminiscences from both women, we delve deeper into their shared history and find that – though they grew and lived their lives along very different paths – deep down, the two women are actually much the same. At the end of the day, they both value the same things – it’s just that, what one gets from her family, the other gets from her cows.
When Britt has to spend some time in the hospital, authorities are sent in to inspect the farm and decide whether or not to shut it down. That’s when the sisters have to become the siblings they were meant to be – and always have been – to join forces and protect themselves and their history from the outsiders who come to threaten it. The women may differ on a great many things, but when strangers try to step in and make their decisions for them, these formidable ladies must find a way to stand together and maintain control of their own lives – both for themselves, and for one another.
Women With Cows is screening aspart of the Hot Docs festival in Toronto on Sunday April 29 at 9:00pm (Lightbox), Wednesday May 2 at 1:15pm (Cumberland) and Saturday May 5 at 3:45pm (Lightbox)