Docu of the Day – Last Train Home

Came out over two years ago and would´ve gone see it in Madrid had I not been busy running between La Descubierta, JJs and random urban chiringitos. Regrets? Absolutely not. Especially because it was way more moving to watch this film here in Shanghai since I´d already learnt a little about the 130 million people who migrate in this country during Chinese new year.


So, last night, as part of the annual 3-week long ENTER art and music festival, the opportunity bobbed up again and this time in a rather interesting setting. To enter the gallery, the screening room and performance box, which are all upstairs, you have to go through some clothes shop, which is quite and odd one. So let us just call it indie trend store. The festival, and along with it the gallery and all, close next week, however the shop will stay open in the French Concession under 158 Xinle Lu. Yes yes, right next to the Luxury Capitalist (see previous entry). Ready-made Viva Vagina T-shirts available but I´m sure they do, any, custom-designs at request.


So, yep, Shanghai does indeed get empty during those days and I later also understood why every single person had warned me not to dare travel during this holiday. Ha, good old times when I didn´t have to fear for my life whenever I was crossing at green lights. But it was also when friends were stuck without ayis who could not make it back to the city on time so they had to miss work or reorganise an entire week because of the absence of child and household minders.

As an anthropologist,  I have always suffered the most from the methodological dilemma of how to be both inside and outside of the chosen microcosmos during field work research. Thus, the most admirable thing in Last Train Home is how tiny a fly Lixin Fan (¨Canada-based¨, how tactful Wikipedia is!) transforms into and thus showing the most intimate moments of his people, while they sleep, work or fight under the invisible, dusty blanket of decade-old emotional repression and helplessness. Chinese Gaman cracks up big time and gives your heart some extra kilos from the first second onwards.


Both the gradually unfolding stories and images are so  overwhelmingly melancholic and human and to such irritating levels that I was literally grateful for the director for cutting in some jokes so that we were able to breathe a little. Maybe I was taken in at such intensity because I know some of my Chinese friends made this trip last February and somehow I projected their faces on some of these characters, running towards a train as if it were a humanitarian aid cargo during war times.



Was nice to chat to the organiser chap from London, too, who was kindly inviting us to stay for the next session, but my friends and I were all so emotionally drained that we  even skipped the otherwise default one-for-the-road glass of wine at a nearby bar.

I came home, sent down some hot Lipton Balance and opted for a bloody, cultural revolutionary, lullaby by Yu Hua.

(Thanks for letting me take some pictures).

This entry was posted in Eat Pray Move, Random Walks in the French Concession, Rhapsodies and Blues. Bookmark the permalink.

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