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Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, 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 the rural villages and families they left behind 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, an emotionally engaging and visually beautiful 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 bitter irony, the Zhangs’ 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 the parents. In classic cinema verité style, Last Train Home follows the Zhangs’ 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?
Lixin Fan was born in China, growing up as his country was modernizing and rapidly integrating with the world. Starting off as a journalist with the national television broadcaster CCTV, he traveled the country and experienced first hand the inequality caused by China’s rapid economic expansion. This inspired him to become a documentary filmmaker with a focus on social issues.
Lixin’s debut feature documentary LAST TRAIN HOME is the winner of Joris Ivens Award at IDFA 2009. The film deals with the worldâs largest human migration by millions of factory workers every year during the Chinese New Year. LAST TRAIN HOME is selected in world documentary competition at Sundance Film Festival 2010 and won the top prize at RIDM (Montreal) and the Whistler International Film Festival.
In 2006, Lixin worked as associate producer/soundman on the acclaimed feature documentary UP THE YANGTZE, a film about the world’s largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam. The film played the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, won the Genie award as Canada’s top documentary feature, and was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award.
In 2003, he edited the Peabody and Grierson award-wining documentary TO LIVE IS BETTER THAN TO DIE. The film, recognized as one of the most shocking documentary on the topic, revealed China’s AIDS epidemic and was featured in the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcasted on HBO, BBC, CBC and PBS.
Director LIXIN FAN
Editor LIXIN FAN MARY STEPHENS
Director of Photography LIXIN FAN
Camera Operators SHAOGUANG SUN LIXIN FAN
Music OLIVIER ALARY
Produced by MILA AUNG-THWIN DANIEL CROSS
Executive Producers DANIEL CROSS MILA AUNG-THWIN QI ZHAO
Co-Producer BOB MOORE
Production Supervisors MICHAEL MK SIU BOB MOORE
Camera Assistant XINGBAO FU
Sound Recordist LIMING FAN
Production Coordinators YI HAN DANIELA FLORI
Production Assistant XINGBAO FU XIAOYU NIU
Cultural Consultant LILIAN LIU
Post-Production Supervisor MICHAEL MK SIU
Story Editor DANIEL CROSS
Editing Consultants YUNG CHANG PETER WINTONICK
Initial Picture Editor MARY STEPHEN
Additional Picture Editor HANNELE HALM
Assistant Editors YI HAN XI FENG
On-line Editor MICHAEL MK SIU
Colorists ERIC GAUDRY FRANCIS HANNEMAN
Post-Production Assistants EDMUND DUFF ANJET BLINDE
Supervising Sound Editor CORY RIZOS
Sound Designer CORY RIZOS
Dialogue Editor and ADR Recordist KYLE STANFIELD
Re-recording Mixers GAVIN FERNANDES (C.A.S.) CORY RIZOS
WINNER OF 2 EMMY AWARDS:
Won Best Feature Documentary at the 22nd annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Won Cinémathèque Québécoise Best Quebec film award at the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM)
Official Selection at Sundance Film Festival
Official Selection at New Directors/New Films Festival
Won Best Documentary Feature at the RiverRun International Film Festival
Won Grand Prix at EBS International Documentary Festival