I made a pretty easy bet with RM that a film set in Kazakhstan would involve two things – steppes and camels. In the first second of Tulpan, both of these appeared to set the scene for the domestic drama of the young man Asa, his sister, her stern husband and brood of adorable children, his friend Boni and Tulpan.

Tulplan is the name of the faceless young girl who Asa wants to, and needs to, marry so that he can have his own flock of sheep and build his home on the steppe. When she refuses to marry him, supposedly because of his big ears, she comes to represent all of his unattainable dreams of a happy and prosperous shepherd’s life, with a wife and children waiting for him at his yurt. The story moves at a leisurely pace, following the shepherd’s day to day existence framed by the unending horizon of the dusty steppe, the onimous stormy skies, the wild, twisting sandstorms and the simple, infinite cycle of life and death. It’s a beautiful piece of work.