“The New Plastic Road”: Poor Tajik Peasants Take a Crack at International Commerce: Toronto Hot Docs

In 2004 the Silk Road between China and Tajikistan re-opened creating economic opportunities for Tajikistan the poorest of the former USSR republics.

We meet Davlat who had a meagre poverty-stricken childhood with 11 people living in his family home. He lived in Kazakhstan for 8 years and then one year in Germany before returning to his remote village Khidorjev in the Pamir Mountains where he invested in two rigs to haul Chinese goods back into Tajikistan travelling treacherous roads. He speaks in a monotone and quite frankly has the personality of a fruit fly.

Entering China is time consuming with trucks waiting at the border. Life and health is difficult for Davlat who struggles to make a living but after investing in an auto repair and resale business he seems to be doing quite well even driving a Mercedes and living in a nice house with his wife a former nurse but obediently saddled with domestic duties looking after a large brood of children.

Davlat isn’t doing too badly as near the end of the documentary he is building a grand house. It seems despite his complaints how tough matters are he isn’t suffering financially except that his restless and adventurous soul is betrayed by a weakened body.

What is the point of this documentary? No doubt the scenery is ruggedly harsh and spectacular and the story interesting but it is simply an interesting story. A glimpse into the life of a Tajikistani businessman attempting to cash in on increased access to China. An interesting story but a compelling documentary I think not.

Part of the “Changing Face of Europe” series of films at Toronto Hot Docs. You can watch the documentary between April 29 and May 9 only within Canada. Tickets can be purchased at the Hot Docs website https://hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival Query what does Tajikistan and China have to do with Europe?

This is a Greek/German production that runs for 88 minutes and is in Tajik with English subtitles. It is directed by Angelos Tsaousis and Mryto Papadopoulos.

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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