Free PBS documentary: Last Train Home
This is a must-see documentary about the hard lives of the Chinese workers who make the stuff Americans buy at WalMart. It is streaming online for free until Feb. 11. Go here. pbs.org
Lixin Fan, a Chinese-Canadian film maker, has captured the essence of what it is like to be a migrant worker in China. For this documentary, he focused on just one family, and the parents’ one and only chance to see their child and her grandparents — the Chinese New Year.
Among those millions are husband and wife Zhang Changhua and Chen Suqin who, 16 years earlier, left their village in Sichuan Province — and left their children in the care of grandparents — to work in the city of Guangzhou, 1,300 miles away. Their contact with their children was reduced largely to telephone calls and the annual New Year’s reunion. While the great spaces of China, alternately empty or crowded with anxious tides of people, are always present, Last Train Home is most intimately the story of the Zhang family, who are fated to reach for the promise of the new China and discover its wrenching cost.
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 to go 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.
More: Film Description