BY MIRIAM RINN
By turns beautiful, sad, and frightening, the multi-award-winning documentary "Last Train Home" looks deeply at the human cost of China's great capitalist leap forward. All those factories churning out sneakers, toys, and T-shirts are manned by millions of workers who have traveled thousands of miles away from their rural homes to earn money to support the families they have left behind.
Once a year, during the Chinese New Year holidays, those millions of workers return home in the world‘s largest human migration. It's as if all of New York City decided to leave town by train on the same weekend. Just imagine what Penn Station would be like.
The scenes of thousands of people pressing forward to board trains while nervous police officers try to keep them in some kind of order, is truly scary to anyone who has ever been caught in a crowd. But Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan isn't interested in capturing only mob scenes. Each person in that crowd is desperate to get home to see children, parents, or a spouse he hasn't seen for a year or more. It's the story of the individuals that power China's extraordinary economic success and their sacrifices that Lixin wants to tell.