Sergei Dvortsevoy, director. In Kazakh with English subtitles (100 min., 2008).
Winner of the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, acclaimed Kazakh documentarian Sergey Dvortsevoy’s first narrative feature is a gorgeous mélange of tender comedy, ethnographic drama and wildlife extravaganza. Following his Russian naval service, young dreamer Asa returns to his sister’s nomadic brood on the desolate Hunger Steppe to begin a hardscrabble career as a shepherd. But before he can tend a flock of his own, Asa must win the hand of the only eligible bachelorette for miles—his alluringly mysterious neighbor Tulpan. Accompanied by his girlie mag-reading sidekick Boni (and a menagerie of adorable lambs, stampeding camels, mewling kittens and mischievous children), Asa will stop at nothing to prove he is a worthy husband and herder. In the tradition of such crowd-pleasing travelogues as The Story of the Weeping Camel, Tulpan’s gentle humor and stunning photography transport audiences to this singular, harshly beautiful region and its rapidly vanishing way of life.
Free and open to the public. Sponsors: ISP, CREES.