SYNOPSIS

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. Tajikistan shares land borders with Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan and China.

A connection to China has been the hope and expectation for a prosperous development for Tajikistan, notably for the people of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, for close to a decade. Unlike the rest of Tajikistan, Badakhshan remains in geographical isolation from the capital Dushanbe, almost throughout the year due to snowfalls, landslides and flooding.This is one of the landscapes where our two main characters meet and interact within their everyday life.

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.



TREATMENT

In 2004 China opened her doors to Tajikistan 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. This exchange of goods and cultures is the subject of our story. 

Badakhshan’s future development depends very much on a broader connection with Central Asian. In Murghab for example, a district of Badakhshan, lying on an altitude of more than 3500 meters on the border between China and Tajikistan, this dependence is even stronger. Murgab is not suitable for agricultural development; nothing really grows there and life becomes very difficult for the locals. Furthermore the rationing of electricity in winter receives no more than four hours (or less) of electricity a day- and this has serious implications in the industry.

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. This sudden change can be seen today as a great way for bilateral relations between the two countries Tajikistan and China, a political and economical cooperation, allowing the Chinese economy to attract resources from Tajikistan and also Chinese goods to flow into the Central Asian market’s. But it can also be seen as a ‘door’ that has been opened to new social issues and cultural instability.


Our story takes place at the Pamir region in Badakhshan in Southern Tajikistan, next to Afghanistan. Khorog is our starting point, a town where socioeconomic development today is highly promoted.


It is winter; on a altitude of 2100m above the sea, surrounded by mountains and the area of Khorog is covered with snow. An aerial shooting gives a better sense of the landscape’s roughness.

Davlat, the Tajik merchandiser owns three shops in the local markets of Khorog and takes the Pamir highway every month to China to buy goods. He has made a prosperous life and has provided a good future for his three children through this business of exchange. He is a hard working man, well known in the trade business and very much respected. He is a modern silk road merchandiser and is not afraid of China’s expansion. Throughout the wintertime from November to May the road is closed due to bad weather conditions and Davlat mainly works at his father’s (a former silk road truck driver) garage, just next to the river that seperates Tajikistan and Afghanistan and also sells the remais of the goods. In these difficult months of winter, Davlat’s life is focused on the family and on the simple daily life in Khorog.

It is winter; dark and pollution is surrounding the city of Urumqi. An urban busy city at the North Western area of China. It is a commerce corner where many trade fairs are taking place. The old Chinese way of merchandising has been industrialized in the face of modern evolution. An aerial shooting gives a better sense of the landscape’s industrial character. Somewhere in the warehouse area we find Liu Xin Jun, the Chinese truck driver who carries goods to Khorog and has as a final destination his hometown. He is young, single and thirsty for exploration. His life during wintertime is nothing more than an empty life of a modern Chinese worker in an urban modern city of this vast country called China.

Urumqi is a hub for drug trafficking and prostitution, 70 percent of the drugs come from the Golden Crescent, according to official figures.

Liu Xin travels weekly, from May to November to Tajikistan and this new opening has changed his personal lonely life. He is thirty-three years old and finding a woman for him, is true happiness.

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.



AUDIENCE

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.



DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

It is always very difficult to expand “the borders”. In Tajikistan, life is interchangeable and is influenced by 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 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.