For Love Of The Land
For Love Of
John Hoiland has lived at “the home place,” a modest house situated on 940 acres of land in McLeod, Montana. He is a third-generation rancher who watched the world change around him as he clung to the only way of life he’s ever known. While a passive John often recalls a romanticized version of his personal history, his closest friend—Jim Larkin—provides candid testimony that reveals the complex truth about John’s life. While he genuinely loves ranching, John didn’t make the decision to stay on the ranch; his parents did. That decision—and John’s resolve to fulfill his parents’ wishes—might’ve cost him true happiness and, in the end, the very land they all loved.
On a cold winter morning, John Hoiland places flowers on his parents' graves, small headstones tucked between tall grass and sage. John plans to be buried here, alongside his parents, their home.
In the distance, a line of cattle travels across the rock-ribbed Montana land. John is home, where home has always been, where a way of life found a place to live. At ninety years old, without children to inherit the ranch, he is forced to ask himself the question: What will become of the land and his legacy?
Cattle ranching is a way of life for John. A way of life that is disappearing forever. Agriculture is a large economy in Montana, but the number of small ranches has dropped more than 50% over the past half-century. John will fight for his way of life, his family name, and the tradition of land stewardship of the small independent rancher.
Awards & Nominations
Assurdo Film Festival (2021) - Season Winner, Best Documentary
Accolade Global Film Competition (2021) - Winner, Award of Merit
Biff International Film Festival (2021) - Award Winner
Global Shorts (2021) - Award Winner
Independent Shorts Awards, Los Angeles (2021) - Gold Award
IndieX Film Festival (2021) - Best Documentary Short Award
New York International Women Festival (2021) - Finalist
Reale Film Festival (2021) - Monthly Winner Honorable Mention
Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift (2021) - Award Winner
Vancouver Independent Film Festival (2021) - Finalist
Accolade Global Film Competition (2021) - Official Selection
Beyond the Curve International Film Festival (2021) - Official Selection
EdiPlay International Film Festival (2021) - Official Selection
IndieX Film Fest (2021) - Award Nominee
International Moving Film Festival (2021) - Official Selection
Student World Awards (2021) - Official Selection
For love of the land. Fascinated by the rugged Montana landscape and the harsh lifestyle that ranching entails, my team spent the past year documenting one elderly cattle rancher. John Hoiland is a living icon of a time when ranching thrived. His story is one rooted in a deep connection to the land, his family, and a bygone era. "For Love of the Land" tells John's story.
- Cynthia Matty Huber
Film Festival Comments
The film's quiet, intimate moments convey a strength and perseverance that speaks to the deep respect he has for his way of life. Though the life John lives is disappearing, John remembers an enduring legacy. His story, a portrait of those that built the West, deserves to be remembered.
We see John's day-to-day struggles.
The long lonely hours of work where the wind is always howling, we see the toll on John's body, but not on his spirit. The film follows John's struggle with the complexities of estate planning. The heart-wrenching reality of keeping the land in his family may be impossible, but John will fight for his legacy relying on the trust he has in his closest friends.
The film reveals the dilemma faced by many American ranchers on valuable lands who can no longer pass their property on to their relatives.
This film sheds light on the system that increasingly forces families off lands they have tended for generations. John Hoiland is a living testament to a time when ranching thrived. His story, one of deep connection to the land, his ancestors, and a remarkable era in the American West deserves to be remembered.
Against the backdrop of the expansive western landscape, John's home is in steady decline, as he lacks the time and help to maintain the house and outbuildings. The rusty sink, the woodstove and the vintage farming equipment peeking through snow allow glimpses into a faded era. Though everything around him appears to be falling into decay, John lives in the memories they hold.