On May 2011, we launched our campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/TheNewPlasticRoad?a=17588) and raised $850, with which we managed to travel to Tajikistan in the area of Gorno-Badakhshan (Pamir region). During our stay there (a month) we shoot our research material for the documentary and found our two main protagonists: Davlat and Liu. At the moment we are in the stage of going back to Tajikistan as well as to China for shooting the actual footage. We really appreciate everyone who contributed at the previous campaign, because you helped us to visit this remote area and document life. Below you can read more about our story and what we experienced. For more info please visit www.thenewplasticroadfilm.com
Before you go through our story, you can read about our project in the press:
In August 2011 we started our trip to Tajikistan for the purpose of making a documentary in a place that we only knew from our extensive research.
Tajikistan has been the poorest of the former Soviet States but it also has the poorest state of roads with limited external transportation links and with infrastructure weaknesses, which hinder development. It has been a country of conflict and instability. In the last decade a connection to China has been the hope and expectation for prosperous development for Tajikistan, notably for the people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. Unlike the rest of Tajikistan, Badakhshan remains in geographical isolation, almost throughout the year due to snowfalls, landslides and flooding and basic necessities such as food water, electricity are lacking in the area, especially in the town of Murghab, where nothing really grows and nearly all food is imported from the neighboring countries of Kyrgyzstan and China.
China opened her doors to Tajikistan in 2004 by reconstructing the road between Murghab and the Qulma pass on the borders, with the intention of expanding her relations but also to promote commerce between the two countries. However, this new road has brought about the evident physical and social transformation of the region. This sudden change can be seen as a great opportunity for bilateral relations to develop between the two countries, political and economical cooperation, allowing the Chinese economy to attract resources from Tajikistan and the much needed Chinese goods to flow into the Central Asian markets. But it can also be seen as a ‘door’ that has opened up to new social issues.
On this first trip, after many treacherous kilometers, we realized how this road is the only connection between these two distinctive cultures, how it has become the bloodline of these people and finally how this international crossroad has the power to affect the rest of the world. Already today, many countries have started to invest in the Pamir region due to this ‘new opening’ with the intention of expanding their developments aiming to enter the global market.
Our story is about growth and change in this isolated area of Badahkshan where our two characters meet.
Davlat is the Tajik merchandiser, a father of three children, who since the opening of the border between China and Tajikistan has made a fortune out of the exchange of goods. Liu is the single Chinese truck driver who transports the goods from China to Tajikistan and the opening of the borders has opened a new door to his daily life.
They both travel on the same road, it is their life. They both have common dreams yet they are so different. We bring out their parallel lives throughout the seasons, throughout the year. Where do these two characters- traders meet and what are their cultural exchanges in this new socio-economical and political connection? How does this border metaphorically and literately affect the lives of the people in this part of Central Asia and consequently the rest of the world? These are some issues that we would like to uncover through this bumpy journey. It is a character driven documentary with a sense of docudrama. As the snow is melting at the mountainous area of Khorog in Badakhshan, the road - The New Plastic Road is revealed and the trucks are starting to leave new traces on that road, until it closes again. Through a structural building of our story we explore the life of our two characters, the interaction between them and we uncover the social issues that occur along the road, The New Plastic Road, between the two countries of China and Tajikistan.
The New Plastic Road, is a film with an international theme through the eyes of two local common people. The evolution of industry and the development of commerce has affected our global community to a large extend. The Road connects the world and China, as the second largest economy on the planet is affecting the global market and to an extend our daily lives.
FILMMAKER’S STATEMENT OF INTENT
It is always very difficult to expand “the borders”. In Tajikistan, life is interchangeable and is influenced from several factors. By reaching this area ourselves, we realized that surviving depends on many sources. Despite all these internal developments the regions transition from a state-organized society into a market-oriented one, is developing very slowly.
Our passion of exploring road life and uncover social stories of everyday life led us to travel thousand miles away from home and explore this unknown area. To record the unexplored and influence people to cross over their “borders” and beliefs about other cultures.
Our aim is to understand the socioeconomic development of the area, as well as to record the everyday life of Davlat and Liu in order to uncover the meaning of expansion and social transformation. Through these local situations we will examine a global effect from the East to the West.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
By spreading the word about The New Plastic Road helps us to make "real" this documentary, as well as finding support from social institutions that have an interest on our theme and the area. It is crucially important to empower social issues in such areas.