Last Train Home has the distinction of being selected for The Economist Film Project, which presents documentary films in partnership with PBS NewsHour. A special segment from the film is available on the PBS NewsHour website.
The POV website will feature a Live Chat with Director Lixin Fan on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 1pm EDT.
Part of the World's Largest Migrant Work Force, One Family Discovers that Opportunity and Hard Work Also Bring Social and Domestic Turmoil
An EyeSteelFilm production in association with ITVS International
"A beautifully shot, haunting and haunted large-scale portrait by Lixin Fan about an astonishing migration involving . . . millions [of] Chinese workers who each year travel by train, boat and foot to return home for New Year's." — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos as more than 200 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year in the world's largest human migration. Last Train Home takes viewers on a heart-stopping journey with the Zhangs, a couple who left infant children behind for factory jobs 16 years ago, hoping their wages would lift their children to a better life. They return to a family growing distant and a daughter longing to leave school for unskilled work. As the Zhangs navigate their new world, this award-winning film paints a rich, human portrait of China's rush to economic development.
Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan's Last Train Home, an Official Selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and winner of Best Feature-Length Documentary at the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, has its national broadcast premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011 at 10 p.m. on PBS' POV (Point of View) series. (Check local listings.) The film will stream on the POV website, www.pbs.org/pov/lasttrainhome, Sept. 28 – Oct. 27.
Embed the trailer, download press releases and artwork at the POV Pressroom.
Last Train Home catches the Zhang family at a critical juncture in their struggle to better their lives — or more accurately, the lives of their children. The parents left their village of Huilong when their first child, a daughter, Qin, was only a year old (a son, Yang, would follow). The children were left in capable and caring hands, but the Zhangs' decision was a heartbreaking one made by millions of Chinese parents who felt they had, as Suqin puts it, "no choice." Like the Zhangs, many have traded a poor but perhaps psychologically secure life of subsistence farming for long, relentless hours of work in city factories and residence in rudimentary dorm-like structures.
In Guangzhou, the Zhangs sleep in bunk beds and cook their meals on the floor. By day, they make jeans for export to America. "Some jeans are huge!" one worker remarks. "You can fit two people in them." Factory wages, modest as they are, allow parents to send money home so their children can stay in school. The Zhangs believe that gaining the education they themselves don't have is the only way for Qin and Yang to have prosperous futures.
The factories where the Zhangs work, the dorms where they live, might exist in any developing nation. But the mass journey home for the New Year is distinctly Chinese in the sheer numbers of people, their stubborn attachment to tradition clashing with their ambition for new lives, and their endurance. New Year also reveals a developing nation whose emerging infrastructure is already overwhelmed. Among the film's most harrowing and truly nail-biting scenes are those of the Zhangs and countless others struggling amid barely contained chaos to board the trains that they can only hope will get then home in time.
"The Zhang family's story speaks for millions," says director Lixin Fan. By observing the fate of one family, the smallest and seemingly stable cell in a quickly evolving society, I hope to articulate the complexities of a nation's ambition to rise and its impact on culture, society and the individual." Read the complete press release.
The POV Last Train Home website will feature additional scenes not included in the film, a photo gallery of the largest recurring migrations around the globe (for events as diverse as the Chinese New Year to the Glastonbury Music Festival), a compilation of must-see documentaries about modern China and updates on the family in the film. Educators may record and show the film in their classrooms for a year following the premiere broadcast. Selected video clips are available for streaming along with a free lesson plan. All viewers may download and print a free discussion guide.
Last Train Home is a production of EyeSteelFilm in association with Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds via the Theatrical Documentary Program.
Mary Stephens, Lixin Fan
Director of Photography:
Mila Aung-Thwin, Daniel Cross
Total running time:
POV Series Credits:
Vice President, Production and Programming:
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Educational Foundation of America, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, FACT and public television viewers. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Funding for POV's Diverse Voices Project is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Project VoiceScape is a partnership of Adobe Youth Voices, PBS and POV. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.