|8:30||Live Music by Mountain Man|
|11:00||Filmmaker Q & A|
|11:30||After-party in the courtyard|
|***||Restrictions: No refunds ~ Seating on the roof is first come, first served, so arrive early. After the roof has reached capacity there will be additional space available in the courtyard, which is also an outdoor space, and where the film and music can also be seen onscreen. Physical seats are limited. This means you may not get a chair. You are welcome to bring a blanket and sit picnic-style, but no alcohol is permitted.|
Last Train Home (Lixin Fan | Canada, China, UK | 85 min.)
Last Train Home will be released by Zeitgeist Films in September, so check out their website for details.
"Stunningly photographed and expertly constructed, Last Train Home features the work of a filmmaker who has immersed himself in the lives of his subjects . . . to explore the story of their fractured family. Many moments in this intimate movie are incredibly striking and ultimately symbolic of a much broader situation."
Amidst a tremendous morass of industrial machinery, we spot infant children sleeping by their working parents' sides. An endless mass of people push through an overcrowded depot; we lock onto one husband and wife, desperately fighting their way through the tide. A teeming train snakes through a snowy mountain-scape; a lone teenage girl gazes out at her beautiful homeland, but inside she's a turmoil of conflicting emotions: hopefulness and fear, elation and loneliness. The astonishing power of Last Train Home, Lixin Fan's award-winning debut feature documentary, is the ability to find the details of the individual that represent the condition of the society.
"I would like my audience to think about the relationship between themselves and these migrant workers," Fan told the Montreal Gazette. "The whole world today is interconnected. We're all one. How we live our life in the West has a very close tie to how people live their lives in developing countries."
This extraordinary documentary follows one family, the Zhengs, for two years--two exhausting holiday journeys and the time surrounding them. When we first meet the parents, they have been unable even to secure tickets for their multi-day trip. Yet when they do, the tickets still won't assure them a place on the unreliable and overfull trains. The tense and harrowing scenes at the train station are indelible chapters in the story, as the camera crew and the viewer are swept up in the dangerous human tide. This ordeal is plainly the crucial allegory of the film: "If the family can't be together for the New Year's holiday," Mr. Zheng says, "life would be pointless."
The Zhengs, like millions of other Chinese, have left their traditional, rural homes for the grinding struggle of life in industrial cities. Life in either setting is incredibly difficult. Back home, an older generation is left to the backbreaking (and barely sustainable) task of maintaining the farm, while also raising the teenage children. Presumably this arrangement is the best option for the family, but the strain on the Zhengs is clear: the grandmother is determined but unwell; the youngest son is restless and misses his parents; the eldest daughter seethes with a growing resentment.
Eventually it is the daughter's spirit that cracks, shown in a scene that is as blunt and powerful as cinema can be. Her choices have a brave strength and hopefulness to them, her sense of justice and destiny is inspiring, her will is strong. But her story is devastating to watch, and represents the tragically cyclical nature of the problems caused by global industrialization.
This screening is part of Rooftop Films and XO Projects INDUSTRIANCE series: films, discussions, presentations and more about the changing landscape in industry, architecture and manufacturing, and the way these shifts affect individuals worldwide. Last Train Home was a Canadian co-production, and is presented in partnership with Toronto's Hot Docs, the largest documentary festival in North America. Last Train Home will be released by Zeitgeist films and will open in New York on September 3rd. Support this fantastic film by spreading the word and go see it in theaters in New York and beyond.
- Mark Elijah Rosenberg