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, Summer Pasture offers rare access to an area seldom visited by outsiders—the highly insular community of Dzachukha, nicknamed “5-most” by the Chinese for being the highest, coldest, poorest, largest, and most remote area in Sichuan Province.
Locho and his wife, Yama, 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. Rigid government policies, rangeland degradation, and the allure of modern life have prompted many nomadic families to leave the pastures for permanent settlement in towns and cities. According to the nomads, the world has entered duegnan—dark times.
Summer Pasture is a sensitive portrait of a family at a time of great transition, and the film evolves as an intimate exploration of Locho and Yama’s personalities, their relationship, and the complicated web of circumstances that surrounds them. The documentary captures 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 the central characters, Summer Pasture provides a deeply personal account of family survival and what it means to be a nomad in a swiftly modernizing world.