Last week, five ITVS documentaries screened at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)––the largest showcase of documentary film in the world. Taking home top honors were the ITVS films LAST TRAIN HOME, by Lixin Fan and Mila Aung-Thwin, which won best feature length documentary, and THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA, by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, which received the special jury award. Read what filmmaker Lixin Fan thought about this year’s competition and what it was like to make the film. Set against the backdrop of the world's largest annual human migration, LAST TRAIN HOME follows the Zhang family who travel home on Chinese New Year to reunite with their teenage daughter.
It was truly unforgettable. Receiving the Joris Ivens Award, given to the best feature length documentary, at the magnificent Tuschinski Theater in Amsterdam is a dream for any documentary filmmaker! This year, the competing films were all superb. It was definitely exciting to see all these wonderfully crafted films being presented by filmmakers from different cultures and countries. Every film is a hearty endeavor to seek truth in life. Though only one film gets lucky to win each year, all of the films and filmmakers should be celebrated. LAST TRAIN HOME became the lucky one last Friday, but it could have never happened without the help of many friends––ITVS being a very prominent one. Three years in the making, the film showed a neglected aspect of the lives of millions of migrant workers.
My intention and hope is that the audience will become more aware of worker’s contributions and the sacrifices concealed by the cheap price tags of the items we often buy. When we over consume, our conscience is at risk of being consumed, too. This film was certainly not easy to complete. We’ve been through so many ordeals. EyeSteelFilm in Montreal and YuanFang Media in China were committed to the film despite the technical and logistical challenges. The crew had to film amid a crowd of thousands at the railway station for days and were often caught between moral ethical decisions—either to help or keep shooting. Along the road, ITVS has been so supportive on all levels. Everyone’s support is greatly appreciated and revealed in the final film on the big screen.
- Lixin Fan, filmmaker of LAST TRAIN HOME
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