Here is a poignant and emotionally riveting documentary that puts a human face on the plight of 130 million migrant workers in China. Many of these rural folk leave behind the lives they have known for a chance to work in the cities, where they are seen as second-class citizens willing to labor around the clock for slave wages. From the squalid dormitories or shantytowns where they settle, they send their wages to relatives who are taking care of their children back home. They are excluded from public healthcare and social welfare by China's household registration system. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan has taken us into the lives of two of these migrant workers and shown us the exhaustion, shame, tension, suffering, and loss they feel.
More than 16 years ago, Changhua and Suqin Zhang left their two children with their parents on a farm so that they could take factory jobs in the city of Guangzhou. They regularly send money home but are only able to get away from their work during the New Year celebrations. And to do so they must go through an ordeal that includes competing for tickets, rushing in a stampede to the trains, and struggling to get a seat or a place to store their luggage. They are among the more than 130 million migrant workers who go through this nightmare each year.
When the Zhangs finally arrive at their rural home, their teenage daughter, Qin, and their son, Yang, are not thrilled to see them even though they come bearing gifts. The children feel awkward in front of Changhua and Suqin and would much rather be in the fields laboring with their grandmother who is their chief caretaker. When Qin decides to drop out of high school and taste freedom as an industrial worker, her parents are mortified. They believe that their dreams for their children have come to naught, since their son also indicates that he doesn't like to study hard and compete for high grades. Changua and Suqin are shattered when the global financial crisis closes down many factories and they both face an unsure future.
Covering a time frame from 2006 through early 2009, Last Train Home reveals the plight of poor people in China — pawns in the global marketplace as this aggressive and ambitious nation races to become a more prosperous country.
Special features on the DVD include Deleted Scenes from Guangzhou Train Station; Travelogue: Guang'an to Shenzhen City; and 19:9 anamorphic transfer, created from HD elements.