IDFA: Last Train Home

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Lixin Fan
running time
China, Canada

“We work far away from home. The old and young are still in the village. If the family can’t even spend New Year together, life would be pointless.” These are the words of one of the countless Chinese workers who make the heroic journey from the new industrial areas to their villages in the provinces each year. In a calm and observational style devoid of comment, Lixin Fan captures two years in the life of one of these families.

The father and mother left the poverty of the countryside 16 years ago, leaving their young daughter behind with her grandparents. Now they work long hours in one of the numerous gray factories that supply the West with cheap clothing. That said, the most toilsome endeavour is the New Year trip. The sight of the multitude gathered at the station is disconcerting, and the couple wait for a ticket for days. When a snowstorm arrives, the chaos is complete.

They still manage time and again, but will they also succeed in keeping the family together and ensuring an education for their children with the money they send home? Painful moments reveal that the patience the Chinese are known for has its limits.