Tulpan moves audiences in Estoril

Article published on Nov. 24, 2008
Article published on Nov. 24, 2008
As it slowly draws to a close, the Estoril Film Festival yesterday presented the local premieres of several titles previously seen in international showcases.

Besides the Eddie Saeta productions Birdsong and Liverpool (see news), the programme also included, out of competition, Jerzy Skolimowski’s Four Nights with Anna (co-produced by festival director Paulo Branco – see news) as well as two titles vying for the Best Film prize: Hooked and Tulpan.

Seen in Venice Days this year (see news), Hooked received just a lukewarm reception despite the interesting visual choice by Romanian director Adrian Sitaru: the story about a couple on the verge of separation uses subjective point-of-view at all times.

Tulpan, on the other hand, was received with warm applause. In the film, which won a prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2008, director Sergei Dvortsevoy captures the life of a family of shepherds in Kazakhstan in a style very close to documentary. With long sequences of local rituals and singings, intimate family portraits and the thrilling birth scene of a sheep, Tulpan is not simply a sociological experience but also a subtle reflection on the role of women in that part of the world and an unfulfilled love story.

The mysterious Tulpan (whom we see only once, in a distant shot of her long hair) rejects shepherd Asa’s marriage proposal because his ears are too big. But that is just a pretext for her to leave the region and attend university in another town, a decision very much supported by her mother and against her father initial objections.

As she was Asa’s only hope for marriage in that deserted region, he will have to reshape his dreams and struggle to gain independence from his brother-in-law’s castrating influence. The film has a melancholic tone that is nevertheless balanced out by funny and tender domestic scenes.

A large international co-production led by Germany’s Pandora Filmproduktion, Tulpan is being sold internationally by The Match Factory.

Vitor Pinto Cineuropa.org