Wylie Writes @ Hot Docs 2014: Deep Rooted

The Last Season (DIR. Sara Dosa)


By: Gesilayefa Azorbo

It’s often said that there’s nothing stronger than the bonds of brotherhood forged between fellow soldiers.  Regardless of place of origin or beliefs, the experiences that form one’s life as a soldier are often common across borders, with a mutual understanding that often transcends other differences.

The Last Season is ostensibly a film about a mushroom hunt.  The town of Chemult, Oregon, population 135, is also home to the matsutake mushroom – an extremely rare mushroom prized in Japanese cuisine and culture.  A single pound can sell for hundreds of dollars.  Mushroom hunters from Southeast Asia (largely immigrants who left Laos, Cambodia and Thailand in the 1980s) flock to Chemult every September for the two months of the hunting season.  Once snowfall arrives, the season is over, so before that happens they all try their luck at finding the buried treasure.

Kouy Loch and Roger Higgins are two former soldiers from very different backgrounds who form an unconventional bond as they hunt together for the treasured mushrooms.  Both affected by the hardships of military combat (and for Loch, the further experience of conflict as a young boy in Cambodia), they turn to each other to cope with the residual physical and mental ailments that afflict them.

For each, the mushroom hunt is a matter of sustenance and survival – Loch wants to provide for his beloved young daughter, and Higgins wants to regain the promise of years earlier when he sold one matsutake mushroom for $1500.  But beyond the financial aspect of the hunt, there is an emotional catharsis associated with it.

For them, this will be their last hunting season together and more than simply a foray into the forest to make some extra cash, the two gain something much more valuable as they find peace and healing in the sublime beauty of nature.

I would definitely recommend Dosa’s doc.  It’s a very moving film about how the power of relationships can heal.

Catch The Last Season at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival on:

Wednesday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sunday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. @ Revue Cinema

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.

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