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Last Train Home []



There are 130 million migrant workers in China, many of whom only journey home to see their families once a year on Chinese New Year. Lixin Fan’s 2009 award winning documentary follows the journey, conflict and struggle of one such family and is a film of remarkable impact. To its western audiences, the film is an eye opening look into the arduous lives of the thousands of low wage workers who produce assemble and manufacture many of our imported goods. While the film exposes the insidious impact of globalization and the poor working conditions of Chinese low wage workers, it is equally successful in capturing universal family conflicts and generational differences. The ‘mass exodus’ of Chinese workers home for the Spring Festival is the world’s largest human migration. The arduous journey of the Zhang family from their urban factory and cramped living conditions back to their poor rural village vividly illustrates the dramatic changes Chinese society has undergone as a result of its economic role in the global marketplace. The film is shot in a cinema-verite, fly on the wall style and the viewer is confronted not only by our role and responsibility as the world’s largest consumers, but by our perspective as the viewer of this hauntingly intimate look into the lives of this family. The parents of the family have sacrificed being present to raise their children for the purpose of sending enough money home to allow their children to pursue their education and have a better life than they have. When their rebellious teenage daughter confronts them about their continual absence and the pressure they place on her to succeed, she addresses the camera directly and the viewer can’t help but feel connected to this extraordinarily personal, politically relevant and remarkably timely film.

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