Filmed in the high grasslands of eastern Tibet, Summer Pasture is an intimate glimpse into the life of a young nomad couple and their infant daughter.
Locho and his wife Yama live in Dzachukha, nicknamed Wu-Zui (5-Most) for being the highest, coldest, poorest, largest, and most remote county in China's Sichuan Province. They depend on their herd of yaks for survival, much as their ancestors have for generations. But in recent years, Dzachukha has undergone rapid development, and Locho and Yama are finding their traditional way of life increasingly difficult to maintain.
Summer Pasture is an exploration of Locho and Yama's personalities, relationship, and the changes taking place around them. Over the course of the film we witness their experiences with illness, infidelity, and the dissolution of their community. In the face of mounting challenges, Locho and Yama ultimately reveal the personal sacrifice they will make to ensure their daughter's future.
The idea to make Summer Pasture came about during the summer of 2006, when we travelled to Kham as part of a geo-tourism field study. On this trip, we met Tsering Perlo, a native of Dzachuka who had grown up in a nomad family and recently taken an interest in filmmaking. That summer, we worked with Perlo on a number of short video projects. We had such a great time together that we agreed to collaborate on a more substantial film about nomadic life.
The following summer, we returned to Kham to spend several months in the grasslands. We staged our equipment at Perlo's father's home, which sat at the base of a large valley where many nomad families grazed their animals for the summer. Perlo had arranged for his cousins, Locho and Zangwo, to meet us with their team of yaks and escort us to the upper reaches of the valley.
Locho graciously invited us to set up camp on a plot near his family's black tent. At the time, we didn't realize that Locho, his wife Yama, and their infant daughter would become the subjects of our film, but as we got to know them better, their personalities drew us in. The camera became a means of getting to know them, and from this relationship, the film evolved.
We are extremely grateful to Locho and Yama for their generosity and compassion, and in making Summer Pasture, we have felt compelled to treat their story with the same open-heartedness they extended to us. We hope that what comes across is a loving, nuanced portrait of their lives.
-Lynn True and Nelson Walker
Lynn True & Nelson Walker III
Lynn True and Nelson Walker are New York based filmmakers, and founders of True Walker Productions and the Kham Film Project. After graduating from Brown University with a joint degree in Urban Studies and Architecture, Lynn worked on feature films and documentary programs for NBC News and PBS. Nelson is also a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University. He began his career working on documentaries for Discovery Channel, History Channel, and PBS's Nova.
Together, Lynn and Nelson have made numerous films, including iThemba|Hope (Sundance Channel, 2005), Lumo (PBS's P.O.V. Series, 2007), and Summer Pasture (PBS's Independent Lens Series, 2012). In addition to their work in Tibet, Lynn and Nelson also work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are programmers of the Congo in Harlem film series at Maysles Cinema. They are currently working with veteran filmmaker Albert Maysles on a feature-length documentary that takes place entirely on long distance trains.
Tsering Perlo is founder of Rabsal, a local Tibetan NGO that engages Tibetans in documentary filmmaking to preserve and regenerate Tibetan culture and customs. A native of Dzachuka (Shiqu) County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and a graduate of the Sichuan Provincial Tibetan Institute (SPTI), Perlo has worked with the Tibet Fund, The Bridge Fund, and the Tibetan & Himalayan Library at the University of Virginia. Perlo is the first recipient of the Machik Fellowship, a program designed to support dynamic Tibetan change-makers working to strengthen their communities and environments.