by Lela Scott MacNeil
September 2nd, 2010

One of the best loved films from this year’s Rooftop Summer Series was Last Train Home, directed by Lixin Fan. It sold out quickly, and was a favorite of both audience members and the press. If you were unlucky enough to have missed it (or if you’ve been wanting to see it again), your luck is about to change. It opened Friday, September 3rd (tomorrow) at the IFC Center, and what’s more, the director Lixin Fan will be there in person to talk about the film on the 3rd and the 4th. Get  tickets here.

So what is Last Train Home about?

Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year’s holiday. This mass exodus is the world’s largest human migration—an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future.

Working over several years in classic verité style Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan (with the producers of the award-winning hit documentary Up the Yangtze) traveled with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for almost two decades. Like so many of China’s rural poor, Changhua and Sugin Zhang left behind their two infant children for grueling factory jobs. Their daughter Qin—now a restless and rebellious teenager—both bitterly resents their absence and longs for her own freedom away from school, much to the utter devastation of her parents. Emotionally engaging and starkly beautiful, Last Train Home’s intimate observation of one fractured family sheds light on the human cost of China’s ascendance as an economic superpower.

Trust us when we say that this is one you shouldn’t miss. And if you don’t trust us, trust indieWIRE’s Brian Brooks, who called the film a “documentary masterpiece.” Or Manohia Dargis from the New York Times, who described it as “beautifully shot, haunting and haunted.” Or Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, who said it was “unforgettable.”

Just do yourself a favor and go see it.

Read our interview with Lixin here.

Get tickets here.

Going with a group? For discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more, please contact Chris Wells at or Harris Dew  at, or call 212-924-6789.


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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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