Last Train Home

The Zhang family travels home on Chinese New Year to reunite with their teenage daughter during the world’s largest annual human migration.

Last train home 01
Series
POV, Global Voices
Premiere Date
September 27, 2011
Length
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
International
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2009 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) -Best Feature Length Documentary Award
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    2009 Whistler Film Festival-Best Documentary Award
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    2010 RiverRun Int’l Film Festival -Best Documentary Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 One World Media Awards-Best Feature Documentary
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    2010 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards-Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film
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    2010 San Francisco International Film Festival-Golden Gate Award, Investigative Documentary Feature
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    2010 Sundance Film Festival-Official Selection
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    2010 Victoria Film Festival-Canwest Award for Best Documentary
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    2010 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival-Best Feature Award
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    2011 Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television-Genie Award, Best Documentary
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    2012 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting – Long Form Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2012 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Best Documentary
  • Fan lixin filmmaker bio
    Director

    Lixin Fan

    Lixin Fan is a social/political documentary filmmaker. He is the director of Last Train Home. Lixin also edited the Peabody and Grierson award-wining documentary To Live Is Better Than To Die, focused on China's AIDS problem and which was featured in the Sundance Film festival and broadcast by CBC, BBC, TV2, and PBS. Lixin worked as assistant producer, Show more soundman, and cameraman on Yung Chang's Up the Yangtze, a feature documentary about the world's largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam. Show less

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    Producer

    Mila Aung-Thwin

    Zhao qi filmmaker bio
    Producer

    Qi Zhao

    Qi Zhao is a documentary filmmaker based in Beijing. He worked as a director and producer for the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV for 14 years, covering features, social, political, and environmental issues. Most recently he was producer for the VPRO IDFA best feature documentary Last Train Home, which deals with the world's largest annual human Show more migration as millions of Chinese flock from the cities to their rural homes by train every Lunar New Year. Show less

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    The Film

    Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, all at once, as a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are in the rural villages where they left behind family to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance.

    Last Train Home, a visually striking debut film from Chinese Canadian director Lixin Fan, draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. Sixteen years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitterly ironic twist, the Zhangs’s hopes for the future are undone by their very absence.

    Qin, the child they left behind, has grown into adolescence crippled by a sense of abandonment. In an act of teenage rebellion, she drops out of school. She too will become a migrant worker. The decision is a heartbreaking blow for her parents.

    In classic cinema verité style, Last Train Home follows the Zhangs’s attempts to change their daughter’s course and repair their ruptured family. Intimate and candid, the film paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China. We identify with the Zhangs as they navigate through the stark and difficult choices of a society caught between old ways and new realities. Can they get ahead and still undo some of the damage that has been done to their family?

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