On the distant northwest edge of China lies Xinjiang, a vast region of snow-capped mountains, barren deserts and gritty market cities. Here, along the ancient Silk Road, music is one of the hottest commodities: it is vibrant, infectious, and far-reaching, permeating every corner of the province. Yet, around the music lies a troubling reality. Engaged in an identity tug-of-war, the region’s main population — the Uyghur Muslims — are gradually watching their populations dwindle as they are engulfed by a predominant Han Chinese settlement. One of the very few documentaries to come out of Xinjiang, “The Silk Road of Pop” captures the challenges of a minority group in China and the explosive music scene which results.
"The Silk Road of Pop" tells the story of Ay, a young music fan. Apprehensive about her own life choices as a young Uyghur woman in China and curious about the outside world, she turns to music for answers and is drawn to musicians who mirror her struggles in their songs.
The film follows the trails left by Ay's interest in music, documenting her influences and portraying her musical idols. A breathtaking journey unfolds, leading to traditional musicians uncovering the age-old roots of the Uyghur music culture in Kashgar, metal bands combining local folk music & Western hard rock in their wild performances, and hip-hop crews honing their skills in the smoky basements of communist block towers.
Featuring an entrancing compilation of songs and video-clips, "The Silk Road of Pop" taps into the rhythmical zeitgeist of what it means to be young and Uyghur in China, showing how music becomes a liberating element for a minority trying to assert its identity within a repressive environment.