Following Workers’ Trails of Tears in China

The New York Times profiles “Last Train Home,” a documentary on China’s migrant workers:

IN the quietly devastating documentary “Last Train Home” Chinese migrant workers huddle together in an overcrowded railway car, sweating through their annual ride home for the New Year holiday. One nattily coiffed young man inveighs against the West, complaining bitterly that American consumers who buy the cheap Chinese goods he makes also get to spend most of their higher salaries on discretionary items, while he, who makes those goods, must send most of his earnings home to support his family.

Lixin Fan, who shot, edited and directed the film, might have chosen to stick with this feisty representative of the new China. Instead his camera cuts away to a middle-aged couple who sit in silence. Zhang Changhua and Cheng Suqin, who make this trip every year to visit the children they left behind nearly two decades ago, belong to a mostly ignored generation of roughly 130 million migrant workers who have sacrificed their productive years, and possibly the integrity of their families, in service to China’s headlong rush into global economic supremacy.

See the film trailer here.

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