Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Tulpan 2008

Directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy

A mesmerising, weirdly perfect blend of fish-out-of-water character comedy, ethnographic documentary and awesome landscape photography, Tulpan provides an unforgettable journey to the Kazakh steppe.

Germany / Kazakhstan / Poland / Russia / Switzerland In Kazakh and Russian with English subtitles
100 minutes 35mm


Karl Baumgartner


Sergey Dvortsevoy
Gennady Ostrovskiy


Jola Dylewska


Isabel Meier
Petar Markovic

Production designer

Roger Martin


Askhat Kuchinchirekov (Asa)
Samal Yeslyamova (Samal)
Ondasyn Besikbasov (Ondas)
Tulepbergen Baisakalov (Boni)
Bereke Turganbayev (Beke)
Nurzhigit Zhapabayev (Nuka)
Mahabbat Turganbayeva (Maha)
Amangeldi Nurzhanbayev (Tulpan's father)
Tazhyban Khalykulova (Tulpan's mother)
Zhappas Zhailaubaev (boss)
Esentai Tulendiev (veterinarian)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, New York, Vancouver, London 2008; Rotterdam, San Francisco 2009


Un Certain Regard Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2008
Best First Feature, London Film Festival 2008


A mesmerising, weirdly perfect blend of fish-out-of-water comedy, ethnographic documentary, social realism and awesome landscape photography, Tulpan provides an unforgettable journey to the Kazakh steppe. After completing his naval service, young Asa, proudly decked out in his sailor's uniform, travels to the steppe where his sister lives with her shepherd husband. Told he must be married before he can become a shepherd himself Asa sets his heart on Tulpan, the only young woman for miles around. ‘No way’, says she, ‘not with those ears’. As Asa's sweet dream of a traditional life on the steppe butts up against one harsh reality after another we're granted an enthralling picture of the elemental world he's determined to make his own. — BG

“Filmed on Kazakhstan's imposing Hunger Steppe, whose vast, sand-blown vistas suggest a Monument Valley stripped of its monuments, Dvortsevoy's first fiction feature transports us to a place most will never visit, where life is lived as it was centuries ago but whose inhabitants seem wonderfully familiar... Graced by a Chaplinesque sense of the humor to be mined from tragedy, and featuring a large cast of camels, sheep and dogs that frequently threaten to upstage their human co-stars, this joyous, one-of-a-kind movie is a must for anyone who doubts that the cinema has surprises still left in store.” — Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

“If there's anyone more stubborn than Dvortsevoy's characters, it's the filmmaker himself – camping out on the steppe, waiting months for the precise weather conditions to shoot a particular scene. In every respect, this unclassifiable movie is an amazing accomplishment.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice