Rating: Three stars
“The goat has arrived. Let the game begin!” How often have you heard that in a sports documentary? You won’t find the title of this fascinating, gorgeously photographed film in our sports pages, that’s for sure. Its title refers to an ancient sport in which 200 helmeted Afghan horsemen compete to capture a goat and throw its carcass over a finish line. Najeeb Mirza’s commendable documentary does a superb job of chronicling the complexities and history of this sport — think polo, but much more brutal and chaotic. It’s documented in the breathtaking Pamir mountains in Tajikistan, the former Soviet republic, through the stories of characters including Azam, a disciplined and traditional shepherd and buzkashi champion, and Khurshed, an opportunistic rival landowner who wants to take this national pastime in a new, modern direction and make it a team sport. Buzkashi is a fascinating tradition begun by herdsmen who battled wolves who preyed on their sheep and goats centuries ago, but there are sequences — including the sights of a goat being killed, and dead lambs — that may upset some viewers.
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