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Last Days of Summer (2023)

-Written by Michelle Vorob.


Last Days of Summer is a short film that follows Tsering (Tsewang Chodak), a goat herder in a poor, rural Himalayan mountain village, as he tries to convince his community that something is wrong with their mountain. He hears strange sounds coming from the mountain, like the rock is breaking apart, but no one else hears it, except Singay (Stanzin Thupstan Manla), a young boy who is like a little brother to Tsering.

The other farmers and elders know something is changing; they're experiencing long-term drought, which is affecting the health of their livestock and want to ask the government for assistance. Interestingly, despite this awareness of an environmental issue, Tsering is once again dismissed when he talks about the sounds coming from the mountain. Other people mock him, explaining it away as ghosts.

Last Days of Summer is showing us the detrimental effects of climate change in a real-world setting; showing us in a simple and clear-cut manner, the ripple effects that are happening and how there are consequences that affect everyone, whether it's acknowledged or not. The villagers are not causing or fully acknowledging the environmental changes, but they are being seriously affected by it. Regardless, Tsering is regarded as a bit of an outcast, because of his insistence that something is wrong.

We face a similar disconnect in our own lives. Does it do us good or harm to acknowledge or dismiss climate change and can we really do anything to stop it? Paper straws and plastic bag bans don't offset the environmental damage of private jets, chemical pesticides, or the fact that plastics are so embedded in our everyday lives that it's being detected in our blood and tissues. 

Do corporate carbon offsets change the fact that landfills are polluted with electronics that are no longer made to last? TVs, PCs, cell phones, tablets, all made to work a few years and then companies don't even push updates to an older model anymore. The ever-growing population is then forced to buy new essential electronics, even if they can't afford it, because our world is now digital. You can't study, work, or survive without it. 

Ironic, when industrial pollution on all fronts is considered a threat to our literal survival.

Last Days of Summer makes us think about an uncomfortable truth. We can take action to mitigate some environmental changes, but it starts by acknowledging the problem. Tsering is right; their mountain, which happens to actually be an ancient glacier, is slowly breaking apart. His village did not cause that, but is experiencing long-term effects from it. Young people are leaving the poor village to get an education. Will they come back to help sustain the village? Will they receive government assistance to keep their way of life solvent? Where will they go if they become [climate] refugees? Would they even be able to continue farming livestock elsewhere?

Last Days of Summer is about the end of innocence for Tsering and his village, as forces beyond their control affect their very livelihood. To make any meaningful change, we need to heed the warnings of the “Tserings” and the scientists at the beginning of almost every environmental disaster film.

Directed by Stenzin Tankyong.

Written by Stenzin Tankyong and Jigmet Wangchuk. 

Starring Tsewang Chodak, Stanzin Thupstan Manla, Padma Angmo, Maymay Tharchin, Tundup Delak.



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