“It’s not good to do nothing. You should always be busy.” And so Yama is. A Tibetan nomad, she’s spending yet another summer in Dzachukha, Sichuan Province, China. Here she and her husband, Locho, as well as her two sisters and their husbands, keep their herds of yaks and horses fed on fresh grass, until the season changes and they head to less forbidding land for winter. Yama doesn’t need to seek work, as she reveals throughout the remarkable documentary, Summer Pasture—made by Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo, and premiering on PBS’ Independent Lens on 10 May. The film provides views of their lives together and in separate interviews too, revealing differing perspectives on their pasts and future, and the lives of their young children. If the couple share difficult daily labors, their emotional lives are premised on ever tentative compromise or, sometimes, painful silence. Even as Locho looks forward to changes—in technologies and access to education—Yama is less convinced of their positive effects. “I think it will be the same as now,” she says as the camera watches her make her way across a snowy landscape, toting the yak dung that will serve as fuel. “Every day is the same. There’s no time to hold your hands in your lap.”
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