Summer Pasture

Summer Pasture

  • BY Lynn True & Nelson Walker |
    Premiered May 10, 2012

About the Film

Locho, his wife Yama, and their infant daughter live in the grasslands of Dzachukha, eastern Tibet, a region nicknamed “five-most” 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. But in recent years, Dzachukha has undergone rapid development, posing unprecedented challenges to nomadic life. MORE

During the summer months, Locho and Yama make their home in a pasture more than 15,000 feet above sea level. Each morning, Yama rises hours before dawn to milk the yaks, which she turns into butter and cheese. Locho, who has been herding since he was six years old, is responsible for wrangling the yaks and making the six-hour trip into town to buy supplies. Central to Locho and Yama’s lives is their five-month old daughter. In the winter they’ll take her to the lama at the local monastery to be named, but for now they call her Jiatomah, meaning “pale chubby baby.”

Traditionally, nomads have subsisted almost entirely off of their herds, but now they’re becoming increasingly dependent on cash. Many have already sold off their animals and moved into town, or subsidize their incomes by foraging for yarsagumba or “caterpillar fungus,” used in Chinese medicine and known internationally as “Himalayan Viagra.” Like all parents, Locho and Yama want the best for their daughter, but the gradual dissolution of their community makes it difficult to plan for her future. “It’s become a different place, a desperate place,” Locho says. “It’s changing so much it’s hard to recognize.”

Locho and Yama believe that sending Jiatomah to school in a nearby town will afford her the most opportunity. They also realize that if she goes to school, it is unlikely she will choose to live as a nomad. Locho and Yama are forced to decide between sacrificing their lifestyle and ensuring their daughter’s future.

Filmed in the high grasslands of eastern Tibet, with unprecedented access to a place seldom visited by outsiders, Summer Pasture is a rare glimpse into the life of a family at a crossroads.

The Filmmakers

Lynn True and Nelson Walker

Director Lynn True began her film career as an assistant editor at NBC News and PBS. She has since gone on to make the independent films iThemba (Hope) and Lumo. With Nelson Walker, she is a co-founder and co-director of the Tibet in Harlem and Congo in Harlem film festivals in New York City.

Director Nelson Walker began his career working on documentaries for Discovery Channel, History Channel, and PBS’s NOVA. His films include iThemba (Hope) and Lumo. He has worked as a visiting instructor at Tibet University in Lhasa and a contributor to the Tibetan and Himalayan Library. LESS

Film Credits

Directed/Produced by
Lynn True and Nelson Walker

Tsering Perlo

Nelson Walker

Lynn True

Tsering Perlo

Tsering Key
Thupten Pema
Dhondup Lhamo
Phurbu Lhamo
Chelsea Hall
Wensu Drolma
Austin Barney
Nyima Tsering
Lobsang Mickey

Additional Camera
Philip Maysles
Tsering Perlo
Lynn True

Production Assistant
Rigpi Dorjee

Post Production Assistants
Emily Frost
Sarah Seigel

Nudup Dorjee

Graphic Design
David Frisco
Liz Deluna

Marichelle Tañag

Colorist and Online Editor
John Custodio

Online and Mastering
Downtown Community TV Center (DCTV)

Post Production Supervisor
Chris Arnold

Supervising Sound Editor
Paul Bercovitch

Foley Editor
Houston Snyder

Sound Effects Editor
Brian Scibinico

Foley Artist
Shaun Brennan

Re-Recording Mixer
Paul Bercovitch

Final Sound Mix Facility
Gigantic Studios

Legal Services
Rosalind Lichter, Esq.

Marketing and Public Relations
Nevette Previd Consulting

Special Thanks
Brad Aaron
Louis Abelman
Beth Alter
Arts Engine
Robert Barnett
Edet Belzberg
Julie Bowes
K.C. and Hong Choong
Rebecca Cohen
Steven and Tricia Cox
Laura Coxson
Jim Crall and Judy Kaye
Sam and Purva Cullman
Megan Cunningham
Jeffrey Cupchik
Laura Davis
Tsewang Dhondup
Tenzin Dolker
Sonam Dondup
Kristina DyLiacco
Cecil Esquivel-Obregon
Alex Gardner
David Germano
Ted Gesing
Leah Giblin
Ethan Golding
Jigme Gorap
Jessica Green
Amelia Green-Dove
Joan and Troy Gustavson
Tomo Hamakawa
Michael Harris
Andrew Hayduk
Xiaopo Huang
Mai Iskander
Tom Kalin
Tsering Key
Grace Kline
Adella Ladjevardi
Locho and family
Albert Maysles and Gillian Walker
Rebekah Maysles
Sara Maysles
Eric Mendelsohn
Cara Mertes
Daniel Miller
Jenny Montasir
Keefe Murren
Ngadron and family
Triwa Rinpoche Lobsang Nyendrak
Nyerton, Party Chief of Deshongma Township, Sershul County Seat
Ellen Park
Bruce Payne
Tenzin Phakmo
Marlo Poras
Trina Quagliaroli
Losang Rabgey
Pencho and Tsering Rabgey
Tashi Rabgey
Mary Robertson
Jann Ronis
Sapana Sakya
Norbu Sangbo
Jason Schwartz
Sershul Monastery
Laura H. Smith
Gillian Tan
Rahdi Taylor
Frederic Tcheng
Robert True
Paola Vanzo
Peter Vaughn
Nate Walker
Nelson Walker II
Tim Walker
Matt Walsh
Rachel Weingeist
Yama and family
Eveline Yang
Donald Young
Zangwu and family
And the entire community of Dzachukha

This film is dedicated in memory of Sandra True

Fiscal Sponsor
Maysles Institute

Funding Provided by
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
International Documentary Association Pare Lorentz Finishing Fund
New York Community Trust
The New York State Council on the Arts
Peter S. Reed Foundation
The Rose Group
Columbia University School of the Arts, Film Division

Summer Pasture is a production of True-Walker Productions, Inc.
in association with Rabsal and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM),
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by True-Walker Productions, Inc.,
which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 True Walker Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Have you ever been forced to make a difficult decision due to economic pressures?


  • 2012 George Foster Peabody Award
    Award Winner
Have you ever been forced to make a difficult decision due to economic pressures?