Year: 2008
USA: Zeitgeist Films
UK: New Wave Films
Cast: Askhat Kuchinchirekov, Samal Yeslyamova, Ondasyn Besikbasov, Tulepbergen Baisakalov, Bereke Turganbayev, Nurzhigit Zhapabayev, Mahabbat Turganbayeva, Amangeldi Nurzhanbayev, Tazhyban Khalykulova, Zhappas Zhailaubaev, Esentai Tulendiev
Director: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Countries: Kazakhstan / Germany / Switzerland / Russia / Poland
Language: Russian (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 100 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains infrequent strong language and moderate nudity
USA Release Date: 1 April 2009 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 13 November 2009 (Limited Release)
US Distributor
UK Distributor


The Kazakhstan-born director's first feature-length film was a major discovery at last year's Cannes Film Festival where it won the Best Film award in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. Also Winner Best Film and Best Director Tokyo 2008 and Winner Sutherland Trophy London Film Festival 2008.

Outside of documentary circles Dvortsevoy was little known until now, but his masterly short and medium-length documentary films have won numerous top prizes at festivals like the Festival dei Popoli (Florence), Sunny Side of the Doc (Marseilles), Cinema du Reel (Paris) as well as the prestigious documentary festivals in Leipzig and Nyon.

However, Sergey prefers to describe his award-winning films which include IN THE DARK, an acknowledged masterpiece, HIGHWAY, BREAD DAY and PARADISE as 'life cinema'. His goal has always been to show the simplicity and warmth of the world with a mixture of naturalism and poetry.

The film is set in Kazakh steppes where Asa's sister, Samal (Samal Yeslyamova) and her shepherd husband, Ondas (Ondasyn Besikbasov) live a nomadic life. To start his new life, young Asa (Askhat Kuchinchirekov), who has just returned after completing his naval service, must first get married before he can become a shepherd himself. His only hope for marriage on the deserted steppe is Tulpan, the daughter of another shepherd family. Poor Asa is disappointed to learn that Tulpan doesn't like him because she thinks that his ears are too big... But Asa does not give up and continues to dream of a life on the steppe.

TULPAN was shot in southern Kazakhstan in an area called Betpak Dala (Hunger Steppe). This is a huge area of the steppe with very flat terrain. Nobody lives there but shepherds and their animals. The actors are supported by a spirited cast of livestock which make TULPAN a vivid, intensely enjoyable debut feature. Sense of place is extremely vivid - lightning in stormy skies, whirlwinds - and the everyday life of the community, animals and small children are wonderfully entertaining as is Askhat Kuchinchirekov's performance as the lovelorn Asa.