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Karakum

An engaging, sometimes exciting juvenile adventure saga set in the vast deserts of former Soviet republic Turkmenistan, German co-production "Karakum" is solid, non-pandering fare for kids (over 8 or so) and adults alike. Theatrical prospects are good in select countries, along with broader tube play.

An engaging, sometimes exciting juvenile adventure saga set in the vast deserts of former Soviet republic Turkmenistan, German co-production “Karakum” is solid, non-pandering fare for kids (over 8 or so) and adults alike. Theatrical prospects are good in select countries, along with broader tube play.

Flying in from Hamburg to visit his father (Neidhart Riedel), who’s detained on a remote engineering project, 13-year-old Robert (Max Kullman) is shunted along with a pricey turbine in driver Pjotr’s (Pjotr Olev) truck for the long journey into the desert; latter’s young shepherding nephew (Murat Orasov) also tags along. On a dubious “shortcut” along camel paths — Pjotr is secretly drug-running — their vehicle breaks down. Things get worse when Pjotr goes off to find water and doesn’t return. With no common language, the two boys nonetheless jury-rig a land-sail craft, eventually discovering Pjotr (with a graphically portrayed leg wound) at the bottom of a well. Odds against survival in the arid, chalky landscape are well captured; there’s more tension once the trio run into Pjotr’s hostile drug connections. Meanwhile, Dad conducts a frantic air search. Good perfs and pacing maintain suspense in pro package.

Karakum

(FAMILY ADVENTURE -- GERMAN-TURKMENISTANIAN)

Production: A EuroArts Intl. production. Produced by Dietrich Voigtlaender, Gulja Chalmamedova, Kurban Tchekirov. Directed by Arend Agthe. Screenplay, Agthe, Usman Saparov. Camera (color), Michael Wiesweg; editor, Ursula Hof; music, Matthias Raue, Martin Cyrus; set decorators, Ulrich Bergfelder, Alexander Tschernov, Will Kley. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 9, 1999. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Max Kullman, Murat Orasov, Pjotr Olev, Neidhart Riedel, Alexander Potapov.

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