Returning home to the desolate, sand-swept Hunger Steppe in Kazakhstan after his discharge from the Russian navy, Asa (Kuchinchirekov) intends to become a shepherd and settle down with a wife — and he has his heart set on Tulpan, the only eligible girl within a hundred miles. But Tulpan thinks Asa’s ears are too big, and his brother-in-law Ondas (Besikbasov) doesn’t think much of his sheep-herding skills. Will Asa realize his life goals?
Who knew life in a yurt could be so much fun? Shot in the arid, forbidding region of southern Kazakhstan, Dvortsevoy’s endearingly loony “Tulpan” is a brilliant mix of gentle comedy, docu-realism, and ethnographic detail featuring a menagerie of braying sheep, camels, and children (one of whom steals every scene he’s in). Asa’s girlie mag-loving pal Boni (Baisakalov) adds to the kooky charm of this black-sheep tale, but watching Asa assist in the birth of a lamb (yes, it’s all there on-screen) might be the most memorable film experience you’ll have all year.