In the remote mountains of Azerbaijan, farmer and family man Tapdig longs for a new cow – a big, black and white European milker. He talks of nothing else, and even has a picture of his dream cow tacked to the kitchen wall. But his wife isn’t sure, and the elders of his village won’t have it: they’ve managed for centuries with their own scrawny beasts, and don’t want this upstart changing the rules.
The setup for this documentary is almost biblical in its parable-like simplicity, exploring in subtle, insightful fashion how shifts in the global economy can have knock-on effects right down to the smallest scale. Sadly, the filmmaking is a little rough and ready. ‘Holy Cow’ would have made a perfect short, but at 72 minutes it does tend to drag. It can also feel unconvincing: too many scenes feel set up for the camera, Tapdig and his family clearly ‘performing’ for director Imam Hasanov. But as a glimpse into a corner of the world very few of us will ever get to see, it’s fascinating.