Filmmakers Bayambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni chronicle a Mongol herder family on the edge of the Gobi Desert, where one of the family’s camels has rejected her newborn calf. The film is a throwback to the masterpieces of Robert Flaherty—Nanook of the North
and Man of Aran
—showing an authentically exotic life through staged scenes and a mapped-out story. The story itself is a simple framework on which Davaa and Falorni hang their observations, giving us the sort of glimpse of distant people and places that used to fascinate Flaherty’s audiences—a view that is just as fascinating today. There’s a film-school diffidence to the movie (Davaa and Falorni were fresh out of the Munich Film School); whether by chance or design, it allows us the pleasure of discovering small moments for ourselves.