DRAMA; 1hr 39min (Kazakh and Russian with subtitles)

STARRING: Askhat Kuchinchirekov, Samal Yeslyamovar, Ondas Besikbasov

Black sheep: Kuchinchirekov

Courtship rituals change but the song remains the same: if a vital spark is missing, nothing will ignite. That’s too bad for Asa (Kuchinchirekov), back home on the Kazakhstan steppe with his sister (Yeslyamovar) and her permanently unamused herdsman husband (Besikbasov) after finishing his naval service and dead keen to run a herd of camels and sheep. To manage that, he needs to marry, and the only girl for miles won’t have a bar of him.


Asa isn’t giving up easily. For one thing, he can’t afford to let his ideal go, and besides, life on the steppe teaches patience and resilience. The terrain in director Sergei Dvortsevoy’s naturalistic wonder is a lunar landscape ripped by furious winds. Yet for the men and women stoically wedded to its demands, the city is the alien planet, as remote as an elusive dream. Nowhere is the primal pull of their unsparing and mysterious existence more potent than when Asa births a lamb in a scene so immediate it puts special effects to shame.