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PRINT April 2009

film

Tulpan

Sergey Dvortsevoy, Tulpan, 2008, color film in 35 mm, 100 minutes. Production still. Ondas (Ondas Besikbasov).

SET IN THE UNFORGIVING region of Kazakhstan known as the Hunger Steppe, Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Tulpan (which opens April 1 at Film Forum in New York) has just about everything anyone could want in a movie: wild swings of mood and weather, generational and cultural clashes, epic vistas of land and sky, fragile connections among humans and animals, the struggle for survival in a harsh environment, and the yearning of a young man for autonomy and a piece of the land of his birth. In a film packed with emotion, there is not a trace of sentimentality, perhaps because Dvortsevoy is a superb dialectician with a sense of humor that is both absurdist and tender.

Witness the scene in which a veterinarian pays a visit to a worried sheep farmer, whose first lambs of the season have been stillborn. Arriving on a motorbike with an ailing baby camel stashed in the sidecar, the vet enlists his client’s

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