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Silk is the film adaptation of Italian author Alessandro Baricco's novel of the same name. It was released in September 2007 through New Line Cinema and directed by The Red Violin director, François Girard. American actor Michael Pitt stars in the lead role of the French silkworm smuggler Hervé Joncour, with British actress Keira Knightley as his wife, Hélène, a teacher and keen gardener. Japanese actors Miki Nakatani and Koji Yakusho are also featured. Exterior Japanese scenes were filmed in the city of Sakata. Knightley's scenes were filmed in Sermoneta, Italy, a small medieval village near Latina. Hervé (Michael Pitt), in 19th century France, is a military officer, because that is what his father wants. He is happy when he gets the opportunity to change his profession to that of trader of silkworm eggs. Because in Europe silkworms are affected by a disease (pébrine), he is sent to Africa to get healthy eggs. (The film shows only a brief desert scene.) Since the African silkworms are affected too, he is sent to Japan, even though at that time (the Bakumatsu period) almost all of Japan was off-limits to foreigners.