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37 USES FOR A DEAD SHEEP
UK: ICA Cinema
Cast: Sereban Aslan, Suleyman Atanisev, Ismail Atilgan, Alpaslan Kutlu, Arif Kutlu
Director: Ben Hopkins
Languages: English / Turkish (English subtitles)
UK: 85 mins
UK Release Date: 17 November 2006 (Limited Release - London, ICA)
In 2005, a small Anglo-Turkish film crew, led by director Ben Hopkins (SIMON MAGUS, THE NINE LIVES OF TOMAS KATZ), arrive in a village in Eastern Turkey to tell the story of the Pamir Kirghiz. The Kirghiz tribe of some 2000 people lived a quasi-Iron Age existence. The Pamir Kirghiz lived for decades in their homeland of the Pamir - an inhospitable area of high-altitude pastures where present-day Tajikistan, China and Afghanistan meet. For the last 27 years, however, fleeing Communist rule, the Pamir Kirghiz have lived in exile in a purpose-built village in Eastern Turkey.
Part historical document, part ethnographical description of an incredible people, and part comedy about the process of film-making, 37 USES FOR A DEAD SHEEP is the result of a unique collaboration between the Pamir Kirghiz community and Hopkins' film crew.
Interviews and observations of cultural traditions are combined with filmed reconstructions of the tribe's recent history, in which the tribe themselves participate as actors.
Starting in 1895, the documentary traces the tribe's antipathy to Communism, which drove them first from the Soviet Union, later from Maoist China, and finally, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, from their last Afghan refuge, whence they fled, along with their 30,000 animals, to Pakistan, and onwards to their current exile in Turkey.