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Located in the Western Range of the Rocky Mountains are foreign-born sheepherders. Brought into the country on temporary visas, they are kept as indentured servants.

Dock (vb) 1: to cut off the end of; to cut short. 2: to remove part of a sheep’s tail, the part of the sheep’s tail after shortened. 3: deduct from a man’s wages, to subject to wage reduction.
4: (n) a place in criminal court where a prisoner sits. - The Merriam Webster Dictionary

Docked exams the plight of sheepherders working the Western Range of the Rocky Mountains through the eyes of Tom Acker (a human rights activist), Ignacio Alvarado (a former sheepherder from Chile) and Lionel (a current sheepherder from Chile) as he works his sheep through the ranges in Colorado and Wyoming. Brought into the country through the Department of Labor's (DOL) H2A temporary visa program because no American is willing to work under these conditions, they are paid $750 a month for a job that requires being on call 24/7. With the rational that these sheepherders are being brought in from third world countries where they would have earned less money and lived in similar conditions, the film explores whether that is a valid argument for denying these sheepherders basic human rights. Isolated locations, the substandard living conditions in campers that do not have electricity or running water, the expectation of surviving on limited food and potable water during both the frigid cold of winter and the sweltering heat of summer, with the only toilet being a shovel and no water for bathing or washing clothes all while needing to protect the flock from predators….the sheepherders live a life of indentured servitude.

  • Sarah C Sifers
    Fate of the Lhapa
  • Sarah C Sifers
    Fate of the Lhapa
  • Christine Elder
  • Karem Orrego
  • Timothy Psarras
  • Scott Thornton
    Story Editor
  • Brendon Randall-Myers
  • Sarah C Sifers
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    232,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sarah C Sifers

(Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Writer) Sarah’s first documentary, Fate of the Lhapa, premiered at the Maui Film Festival and continued to play in festivals around the world for two years. She worked as a cinematographer on Jenny Mackenzie’s
documentary Kick Like A Girl, which aired on HBO. Sarah also traveled to Dharamsala, India to film the documentary Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for the Tibetan Ngari Association. Docked is Sarah's second feature length documentary film.

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Director Statement

I think of myself as an accidental documentarian. I was traveling in Nepal when I stumbled upon the subject of my first documentary. I was in a Tibetan refugee camp, asking an old Tibetan Lhapa (shaman) about his healing practice. And he kept responding 'Why isn't anyone recording this...at the time of my death, it will cease to be'. So I returned home, taught myself how to use camera and sound equipment and returned the following year...filming both that old man and two other old Lhapas in the same refugee camp whose ancient healing traditions were also in danger of extinction. Seven years later, Fate of the Lhapa...a feature length documentary...premiered at the Maui International Film Festival and for two years after that, chugged its way around the world doing the film festival circuit. And I thought I was done. Until I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about sheepherders who are being brought into the U. S. on Department of Labor temporary visas and being treated like indentured servants....and that a small number of the sheepherders were coming from Nepal. Arrgh...another fire in the belly. I started traveling and filming with two human rights activists. We never did find the Nepali sheepherders...but on my first venture out, met Lionel and filmed him over the course of his three-year contract. I film in the style of cinema vérité…immersing myself with the subject and subjects and following the story wherever it leads me without a preconceived notion…embracing the twists and turns that appear along the way. I love to weave strands of stories together…following one until it seems to peak…then turning back to bring another strand forward in the storyline. I love to embed visual images that repeatedly occur in the environment to serve as metaphors for the topics of my documentaries.