Although a semi-experimental documentary about Turkish shepherds should have viewers counting sheep by reel two, “The Last Season: Shawaks” becomes an altogether compelling experience, due to helmer Kazim Oz’s (“The Storm”) keen directorial eye and raucous sense of humor. Practically sans narration, with only spatters of rough dialogue throughout, this year-in-the-life portrait of a small tribe’s ordeals in rugged Eastern Turkey is at once intimate and universal, showing how the most esoteric of situations is marked by everyday frustrations, amusements and an ongoing battle of the sexes. Pic could graze its way into offshore fests.
After directing two features (including “The Storm”), Oz set off to follow the nomadic Shawaks as they herd their flock — either by foot or in pickup trucks — through a range of mountainous pastures, until the sheep reach their final destination: the slaughterhouse. Concentrating as much on the animals as on the humans (and making some intriguing parallels with regard to each species’ behavior), the sharply edited images are often cruelly poetic, revealing several careless deaths, maltreated mules and a heritage that persists through song, storytelling and endless bickering. Soundtrack is rich with stirring indigenous tunes.