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Last Train Home

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Documentary - Humanities

DVD: Available Now
Consumer Advice:

Coarse language

Run Time:
90 minutes

Mandarin, Sechuan dialect, English subtitles


Lixin Fan

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Now available to watch on beamafilm

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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?


The mind-boggling notion of 130 million Chinese migrant workers making their way home from inhospitable industrial cities to impoverished villages once each year gets a human face in Lixin Fan's extraordinary, vital documentary Last Train Home. The filmmaker follows a couple — they work in a jeans factory seven days a week — on their arduous annual journey to visit the older and younger generations abandoned by China's economic ''miracle.'' This is essential viewing for understanding our world.

Filmmaker Lixin Fan may very well be one of modern-day China’s great nonfiction storytellers…. LAST TRAIN HOME is a documentary masterpiece!
Brian Brooks, INDIEWIRE

Mr. Fan’s documentary is informed by a melancholy humanism, and finds
unexpected beauty in almost unbearably harsh circumstances

Beautifully shot, haunting and haunted
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Exceptional documentary!
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

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