Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Ben Hopkins' documentary 37 Uses for a Dead Sheep provides a warm, benevolent, and occasionally humorous glimpse at the lifestyles, mores, and background of the Pamir Kirghiz, a nomadic tribe from the central Asia. Because of their unswerving opposition to Communist ideologies, the Kirghiz were rejected by virtually every country on the Asian continent until they received international support and two alternate offers for permanent homes c. 1979, one in the eastern regions of Turkey and one, backed by the U.S., in Alaska. (The tribe chose the former.) Here, documentarist Hopkins teams up with Ekber Kutlu, a Kirghiz scholar and artist, and travels inside of the Kirghiz, for one of the first cinematic glimpses of this cultural unit. Within the film, Hopkins intercuts newly shot on-location documentary footage with dramatic reconstructions of events from the tribe's past (filmed in disparate styles), to provide a window into the Kirghiz experience over the course of time -- revealing the persistence and tenacity that older generations have projected in the face of massive obstacles, and the unbridled optimism of the younger as they anticipate future years.