Opening 3 Dec 2009
Writing credits: Sergei Dvortsevoy, Gennadi Ostrovsky
Principal actors: Tolepbergen Baisakalov, Ondas Besikbasov, Samal Esljamova, Askhat Kuchencherekov, Bereke Turganbayev
Asa the sailor has had enough of the high seas and returns to Kazakhstan to live with his sister Samal, brother-in-law Ondas and their children. They are nomads and make room for him in their round yurt. He helps herd the sheep, although his talents lie elsewhere. In order to be successful, i.e., have his own herd and yurt, he must marry. Tulpan is the only marriageable girl in the area. However, Tulpan is not interested in any of Asa’s qualities, as praised by Ondas, the intermediary. She says that she cannot love anyone whose ears stick out. Possibly she has never heard of Great Britain’s Prince Charles. Disappointed, Asa sees only disasters: in the mirror which reflects his ears, in complaints from Ondas about his ineptness with the animals, in his dashed hopes for his own home and income. His quirky friend who delivers groceries to outlying nomads while listening to disco music in his truck wants him to move to the city.
Director Sergey Dvortsevoy was born in Kazakhstan and knows the area well. The photography (Joly Dylewska) of the wide steppes and the big sky, as well as the close-ups of the actors, is beautiful. There is a feeling of simplicity and warmth. The children are good, especially one who plays a three-year-old. This small slice of life will take you away from your own reality to a different world. Still, people are the same everywhere with their dreams and their problems. These nomads depend on their herds for everything, and when the sheep begin to die for lack of food, jug ears suddenly become unimportant. Tulpan won many prizes in 2008, e.g., best film in the category Un Certain Regard in Cannes, best film in Zurich, Montreal, Tokyo, Reykjavik, London, India, etc. (Becky Tan)