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Last Train Home

- [ ]
- [ Lixin Fan’s Biography-Filmography ]
- [ Review from The New York Times ]
- [ indieWire : Discovery |Last Train Home” Director Lixin Fan ]


Last Train Home

by Lixin Fan
| Canada | 87’ - 52’ | 35mm | 2009 | HD |

Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival is the most important holiday in the lunar calendar. It remains the last stronghold of Chinese traditions that are withering rapidly with the invasion of new values. Each year, hundreds of millions of migrant workers return to their homes from the city to the rural countryside, throwing the transportation system into utter chaos. For many migrants, the cheapest and fastest route home is by train. People camp at railway station for tickets, climb through windows, stand for days and nights, wear diapers to avoid using the lavatory, and struggle to stay in sanity to survive the ride. They are determined to return home at any cost for the solemn purpose of getting back to see their families.

The Zhangs left their ancestral village and their one-year-old daughter to find work in Guangzhou city 16 years ago. The couple toils in a poorly ventilated, dimly lit garment factory to make money to pay for the daughter's schooling. The Zhangs never complained because they don't have a choice. To have her educated is the only way to give the daughter a better life in the future. Now their daughter is 17, and she only gets to see her parents once a year at the Spring Festival. The rebellious teenager always felt lost and neglected since her parents were away all these years. She is convinced that her parents care more about making money than taking care of her. Thus, she quit school, came down to Guangzhou city, and become a young migrant worker, which is exactly what the parents don't want her to be.

Living in the same city but not talking to each other, the family is shattered by years of misunderstanding. The old tradition of parents making self-sacrifice to better the life of children's is brutally challenged by the new social reality. Good will may not always have good result. Nevertheless, hope always sprouts from despair. This Spring Festival, the mother decided to bring the family once again to embark this migrant odyssey to go back. Her mission is to reunite the family and to get the daughter back to school. Love and sacrifice didn?t triumph for the past 16 years. Will it succeed this time?

China's booming economy is largely based on exploiting the vast population of cheap labor. Sacrificing the poor for GDP growth, the country runs the risk of making millions of families separated and their children fell uneducated. These issues could all pose serious backlash against the country's ambitious goal. LAST TRAIN HOME examines not only individual's fate among this chaotic social evolution but also the country's loss and gain in a race to be the world's next super power.

Jerusalem Film Festival's Jury remarks:
"In its direct approach, LAST TRAIN HOME, made by Lixin Fan, highlighted the frailties and vulnerabilities of his characters in a way that universalizes their personal story and makes it a story of our times. In its depi...ction of the fracture of the building blocks of society, the imperatives of the global economic system we live with, which was intended to confer improvements on the lives of humanity has lead instead to the breakdown of home, health and families and de facto slavery for many millions of the intended beneficiaries."