‘Last Train Home’ (2009) – A Terrific Chinese Documentary

‘Last Train Home’ (2009) – A Terrific Chinese Documentary

Each year in China more than 130 million migrant workers travel home for the New Year’s holiday—the one time they’ll reunite with family all year. This is the world’s largest human migration.

Keeping the said fact as the subject of this documentary, Chinese Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan with ‘Last Train Home’ captures a mass exodus of human migration which is real and universal when we talk about migrant workers and their complicated life with limited choices and endless struggle.

Director Lixin Fan follows the lives of Chinese couple Changhua and Suqin in portraying their struggle that is the essence of the film. They are a couple from a rural village who are now employed as migrant workers in a large textile factory, in the modern industrial city of Guangdong with the hope to give a better life to their children.

‘Last Train Home’ – Movie Trailer

Like most Chinese migrant workers, they left behind their two infant children at home with their grandmother, of course with a wish not to see them in any such grueling factory jobs when they grow up. A thousand miles away from their children they only have the chance to meet their family members during China’s annual New Year.

However, their few day’s trips to home is not a smooth and easy journey, when scores of people fling to the railway station during the holiday with an overcrowded rail system that struggles to keep pace with the rush.

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As the couple makes this long journey home, they find that their family is slowly falling apart; their children are no closer to them, although they are happy that their parents are at home. They have now come to resent their parents which even led their 16-year-old daughter Qin to leave school, move to a city on her own and get a job like her parents.

Even though ‘Last Train Home’ is a film about just one family, it depicts the overall life story of Chinese migrant workers, their family conflicts, their everyday challenges living a life in a rural village, and those tiring working hours in factories away from home, while they struggle to improve their quality of life.

Directed by Lixin Fan
Cast: Yang Zhang, Changhua Zhang, Suqin Chen, and Qin Zhang.
Cinematography: Lixin Fan
Language: Traditional Chinese
Release Date/Year: November 22, 2009 (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam); September 3, 2010 (US)

Where to watch Last Train Home (2009) Original Title: 归途列车
This post is written, edited and published by the Cinecelluloid staff.

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