Complex Realities With Simple Stories - Dutch Film Silk Road Is A Riveting Watch

Archita Kashyap - 79 weeks ago

Silk Road- the term invokes historical references of flourishing trade that shaped nations and civilizations across eras. Travelling through less frequented places in Eurasia like Georgia will bring in rare revelations about this road and it’s magic. Linguistic references and cuisines travelled across Europe, and remote parts of Asia, from the Silk Road during medieval times, leaving lasting impact on people and their customs.

It’s not surprising therefore, that director Mark Cloe, a veteran of Dutch cinema and television, found the name, Silk Road, apt for his engrossing telling of a tale of deceit on the Dark Net. Silk Road, the website, remains a mystery till date. Having launched in the early 2000s on the alternate Internet, it was a market place for all kinds of goods. What began as a pure form of free market practice, eventually got criminalized. Drugs, women, illegal child trafficking, guns and even hired assassins came in play on the Silk Road. 

(A still from Silk Road (Image courtesy - Dutch Features)

In Cloe’s film, two young Dutch citizens get caught up in a web of deceit and manipulation while trading on the Silk Road. A youthful error of judgment, they begin to sell drugs on the website. One needs to view their choice in consonance with the reality that in the Netherlands, marijuana is actually legalized. Drugs don’t always carry taboos as harsh as the rest of the world. The film draws from real life instances where the Interpol had indeed arrested some Dutch college students when police authorities worldwide had cracked down on the Silk Road. The film had caught on the fancy of Dutch audiences with it’s gripping, realistic presentation. For its novel treatment and solid performances, this Indie gem has been nominated at various awards and film festivals. It won Olivia Lonsdale the Best Actress Award at the Milano International Film Festival, and got nominations for both actors Gijs Blom and Jonas Smulders for Best Actor, among others. 

Having been exhibited on Dutch television in 2017, Silk Road, despite being a well told film, that deals with a relevant theme with global resonance, has not been seen widely. It also reflects the high standards of Dutch cinema, which doesn’t make a fuss around stars but focuses on telling qualitative and good stories for audiences. 

(A still from Silk Road (Image courtesy - Dutch Features)

Silk Road captures the undercurrent of rebellion that youth display, and it’s consequences in a world where state led regulation dictates the dimensions of all human behavior and interactions. In their intent to sell drugs online, the protagonists of this film inadvertently committed to evil. More importantly, they invited entanglement with organized crime. Once the law had caught up with the real Dutch individuals that had gotten involved with Silk Road, they got no recourse from harsh punishment. The film’s story is genuine and easy to relate to. It is also educative about the dangers of misuse of freedom. The film is a must watch for anyone who wants to go beyond typical safe storylines in cinema.

(Silk Road is currently playing on myNK)


Silk Road / Dutch Films / Mark Cloe / Olivia Lonsdale / Gijs Blom / Jonas Smulders

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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