The Last Season
Every September over 200 seasonal workers, most of them Cambodian, Lao, Hmong, Mien and Thai, set up a temporary camp near the tiny town of Chemult, Oregon. They remain until the first snowfall, searching the lush woods of Klamath County for the rare matsutake, a fungus highly prized in Japan. This sensitive, probing documentary examines the bond between two of these hunters in one unusually hard season.Elderly Roger Higgins is a Vietnam vet who returned from the war traumatized and alienated. “We couldn’t get a job, so we made our own jobs. I would get out there in the woods and just work.” Kouy Loch is a Cambodian immigrant whose experience as a starving slave laborer under the Khmer Rouge taught him the foraging skills that now afford him a living. The men cemented their relationship years before over the shared pain of their Southeast Asian experience, becoming almost like father and son as they traipsed through the trees together. But Roger is too sick to do much hunting this year, and Kouy must walk the forest on his own.The Last Season contrasts the past with the present, the camaraderie of the mushroom hunters’ camp with Higgins’s remote home in the woods and the hope of a yearly treasure hunt with the vagaries of climate and falling prices. The result is a poetic film about friendship, nature and life.