Last Train Home

Lixin Fan’s extraordinary and visually stunning film, showing in the True Stories strand, charts one family’s involvement in the world’s largest planned mass migration.

Every year in the days leading up to the Chinese New Year, the train and bus stations of China’s booming cities are besieged by millions of migrant workers seeking to return to the villages and families they left behind in search of a better life.

One such family are Suquin Chen and Changhua Zhang, who left their village 16 years ago, consoled by the knowledge that their wages would offer their children a better life. But their daughter Qin, feeling abandoned, has quit school and herself become a migrant worker. Last Train Home follows the Zhang’s journey home through the massed crowds and their attempts to change Qin’s mind and repair their ruptured family. Includes reference to family tension.

Watch on Channel 4 on Demand Here

Mad About English (我为英语狂)

Trailer for the 2008 documentary Mad About English (which I can’t find anywhere…)

Have you ever seen 10,000 students learning English from one teacher – all at the same time? Have you ever met a detective whose mission impossible is to arrest bad grammar? Or encountered a 74 year-old retiree who thinks nothing of ambushing foreigners on the streets just so he can practice his English? Or heard a Chinese policeman speak English in a New York Bronx accent?

If you haven’t, catch Mad About English! – the amazing story of 1,000,000,000 people and their MAD MAD MAD rush to learn English! As the clock ticks down to next month’s Olympics, China ‘s love affair with the English language has reached feverish proportions. With half a million or more visitors descending on Beijing for the Games, can the Chinese pull it off with their newly-acquired English? Mad About English! follows the inspiring and heart-warming efforts of a city preparing to host the world by learning a once-forbidden tongue.

Where your beads come from

I’m hoping to show the documentary Mardi Gras: Made in China as part of the module. It’s an examination of the process of making beads in Chinese factories and what happens to them afterwards. As you can imagine, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

The director has written about the film over on Etsy:

MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA follows the story of four teenage workers who sew plastic beads together with needles and thread and also pull them from a machine. Each story provides insight into their economic realities, self-sacrifice, dreams of a better life, and the severe discipline imposed by living and working in a factory compound. I was eventually kicked out of China under the premise of not having a journalist visa, so I continued following the bead trail to New Orleans in an effort to visually personalize globalization. What I found, and presented in the documentary, is that Mardi Gras beads were hand-crafted and made from cut glass in Czechoslovakia up until the late 1960s. Glass beads were the most popular throws at that time, but a rise in costs, political conditions overseas, and a safety ordinance that cautioned against items that might cause eye injuries all contributed to the decline and ultimate elimination of glass beads and the rise in popularity of plastic ones.

via Mardi Gras: Made in China | The Etsy Blog.

Here’s the trailer