Pascal, 53, and Carole, 28, are shepherds. In the month of November 2010, they embark on their long winter transhumance: Four months during which they will have to cover 600 km in the Swiss-French region, accompanied by three donkeys, four dogs and a flock of eight hundred sheep. An exceptional adventure is about to begin: They brave the cold and the bad weather day in, day out, with a canvas cover and animal skins as their only shelter at night. This saga reveals a tough and exacting profession requiring constant improvisation and unflinching attention to nature, the animals and the cosmos. An odyssey through a region undergoing profound changes that render this kind of expedition more difficult every year, particularly when the grass for the sheep has to be found between villas, railroad tracks and industrial areas. An eventful journey with surprise encounters, moving reunions with farmer friends, nostalgic figures of a country life that is rapidly shrinking away. A film dominated by the strong personalities of Pascal and Carole, whose relationship and joie de vivre transform this transhumance into a magnificent hymn to freedom, at opposite extremes of our comfortable reality. WINTER NOMADS is an adventure film, a contemporary road movie, a reflection of our current world, which takes us back to our roots, not to mention some essential questions.

Director's Statement

Being nomadic, cultivating this ancient art of the shepherd living in direct contact with the earth, the animals and the cosmos, being true in friendship, open to surprising encounters, sharing time with fellow farmers once every year, is a wonderful hymn to freedom, an antithesis to our comfortable realities. I wanted my film to restore these realities to their closest, to become an adventure film that brings the viewer into the eventful life of a transhumance in which one can feel and hear the herd and connect to the breathing of the shepherds, a movie that makes you smell the scents of the earth and the mud, the wet wool and the forest, to be a concrete, realistic, earthy film. In other words, I feel my film to be as much a contemporary parable as a filmic meditation allowing inspiring dreams about freedom and creative life, not to mention the questioning of one’s own values.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Mark von Stürler

Written by: Mark von Stürler, Claude Muret

Produced by: Elisabeth Garbar, Heinz Dill

Cinematography: Camille Cottagnoud

Editing: Karine Sudan

Original Score: Olivia Pedroli

Nominations and Awards

  • European Documentary 2012