Summer Pasture is a feature-length documentary about a young nomadic couple living with their infant daughter in the high grasslands of eastern Tibet. Filmed during the summer of 2007 with rare access to an area seldom visited by outsiders, Summer Pasture offers an unprecedented window into a highly insular community and a sensitive portrait of a family at a time of great transition. Locho and his wife Yama live in Dzachukha, eastern Tibet – nicknamed “5-most” by the Chinese for being the highest, coldest, poorest, largest, and most remote area in Sichuan Province, China. They depend on their herd of yaks for survival, just as their ancestors have for generations. In recent years however, Dzachukha has undergone rapid development, which poses unprecedented challenges to nomadic life. Summer Pasture evolves as an intimate exploration of Locho and Yama’s personalities, relationship, and the complicated web of circumstances that surrounds them. Over its course we witness their travails with illness, infidelity, and the dissolution of their community. In the face of mounting obstacles, Locho and Yama gradually reveal the personal sacrifice they will make to ensure their daughter’s future. Through its subtle observation of Locho and Yama’s character, Summer Pasture provides a deeply personal account of what it means to be a nomad in a swiftly modernizing world, and a universal story of family survival.
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Summer Pasture is a collaborative project, initiated by American filmmakers Lynn True and Nelson Walker who partnered with emerging Tibetan filmmaker Tsering Perlo. A lifelong resident of Kham, Perlo grew up in the nomadic areas depicted in the film and granted our team rare access to film in a community seldom visited by outsiders. Our aim was to create a film that honestly and intimately shares the everyday challenges and experiences of nomadic life, and in doing so, offer a unique alternative to the abundance of purely religious or politicized films about Tibetans. Due to the difficulties of filming in Tibet, there are relatively few films that depict the perspectives of local Tibetans. The overwhelming majority of Tibet-related films tend to focus on the Tibetan Diaspora, and often lead viewers (even if unintentionally) to equate the exile experience with that of Tibetans living in Tibet. Summer Pasture offers viewers a rare opportunity to see Tibet from the inside. Locho and Yama were extraordinarily generous in sharing their lives with us. We are grateful for their honesty and compassion, and as filmmakers, we feel compelled to treat their story with the same open-heartedness and respect. Our aim is to find the moments of drama and humor that permeate Locho and Yama’s daily lives. By juxtaposing these moments with their thoughts and reflections, we gradually arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the broader circumstances shaping their reality. Though Locho and Yama’s challenges may be unfamiliar to many viewers, their charm and sincerity transcend cultural difference, and remind us of our shared qualities as human beings.