The People Who Make "Made in China"

So many products come from China today that it's easy for US consumers to think of that country as an impersonal machine that simply fills purchase orders for Best Buy and Home Depot. If we travel as business people we know China better through relationships and deep friendships with the people who run and own the factories. What we never know, are the lives of the people who work in those factories, the realities of how they live, what their families are like, what they dream of.

Last Train Home is an extraordinary documentary about people who make "made in China." It offers an intimate portrait of the Zhangs, a couple who have left their their village home and children (with grandparents) for factory jobs in the big city over 1000 miles away. Their kids miss them and suffer from their absence. The Zhangs return home only once a year in spring, when they join the chaos of 130 million migrant workers simultaneously journeying to their home villages for the New Year.

If only for perspective on how bad the hassles of travel can be or for a peek at Chinese factory life, this movie is well worth watching. But it's far more than that. Like the best of art, Last Train Home reveals our common humanity.

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