Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Train Home Trailer in honor of the Chinese New Year

Here in Boulder we are in the middle of BIFF, the Boulder International Film Festival. This morning I had the opportunity to see the film, "Last Train Home", which documented one family's story out of the 130 million who do a mass human migration from the countryside to the city to find work in attempt to improve their lives. These people find factory work, save for their futures, and send money home for family and their children's educations. They return to the countryside once a year for the Chinese New Year to visit their families.

The implications are profound, as one sits in the theater and contemplates how our global economic system has led to our bizarre interconnected trade, borrowing, and currency relationship with China. Besides the guilt one feels for consuming, there is an acknowledgment of the basic ties between all humans when it come to fundamental human nature: wanting our children to be successful, sacrificing for family, sacrificing for the future, teens don't appreciate their parents, children repeat the mistakes of their parents, there can be communication problems with those in life who we love the most, there is a desire to get ahead, to have community, to do what the masses are doing whether it makes sense or not, and a desire to escape boredom.

Another observation was that the primitive farm existences looked much more idyllic, but yet these farms were fled for a "better" life in the cities, where their lifestyles appeared to be much worse off from day to day.

The audience faces were very somber as the movie ended. The faces reflected guilt, sympathy and helplessness over this global imbalance caused by our over-consumption, corporate driven societies, and governing failures. Yet, this is a nation in transition, and transitions and migrations have happened throughout human history. One doesn't have to go back far into one's own ancestry to find tales with similar themes. We all just do what we have to do.

For another review, here is one from the Sundance film festival.