The story, drawn from La masseria delle allodole, the best-selling novel by Antonia Arslan, tells about the Avakian clan, an Armenian family living in Turkey and having two houses. The Avakians feel convinced that the rising tide of Turkish hostility on the horizon means little to them and will scarcely affect their day to day. The Avakians do not pay attention to the warning signs, and set about preparing for a family reunion with the impending visit of two well-to-do sons - landowner Aram, who resides in Turkey, and Assadour, a physician living in Venice. These illusions come crashing down when a Turkish military regiment crops up at the house, annihilates every male member of the family and forces the ladies to trek off into the Syrian desert, where they will be left to rot. With them goes one of the little boys of the family, who was dressed into a girl in order not to be killed. Meanwhile, a handsome Turkish officer (Alessandro Preziosi) falls in love with Aram's sister and makes an aggressive attempt to deliver her from certain death, even as the circumstances surrounding him attest to the astounding difficulty of doing so.