News and Reviews
Educating About Asia Through Film    

February 2011    
Issue: #38     
In This Issue
Film Review: Last Train Home
Film Review: Mongolia: Thirty Years Later
AsiaLENS Series
About AEMS
News and Reviews Archive
About AEMS

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Last Train Home

Last Train Home 

Directed by Lixin Fan. 2010. 87 minutes.

Reviewed by Sue Gronewold

Depending on which source you consult, there are between 130 and 230 million migrants workers in China today who travel long distances across the country in search of better paying jobs and an escape from a life of farm drudgery or low wage local work. In the first images of the poignant 2009 film, Last Train Home, it seems that all 200 million migrants are on the same railroad platform in coastal Canton (Guangzhou), crowding into trains for the once-a-year trip home for the month-long Chinese New Year celebration in late winter. ("If we can't make it home for New Year's," one fellow says despairingly, "life is not worth living.") The first scenes are staggering: a sea of people pushing people, entreating officials, jumping over barriers. Amidst a million heartrending dramas, the film quickly focuses on a husband and wife (Zhang Chuanghua and Chen Suqin), who only at the last minute obtain hard-to-get tickets to travel 1,200 miles to see their teen-aged daughter Qin and younger son Yang, whom they left in the care of elderly granny on a pitifully poor farm in rural Sichuan. They are the Everyman -and woman- of China today. 


Mongolia: Thirty Years Later
Mongolia: Thirty Years Later
Directed by François Laliberté. 2008. 42 minutes.

Reviewed by Shao Dan and Nancy Jervis


In 1968, Dan Zhang, a Beijing zhiqing (intellectual youth), volunteered to go to Inner Mongolia. It was the midst of the Cultural Revolution, and she was just seventeen years old. As a "sent down youth" from the city, she went through an initial "culture shock" living on Mongolia's grasslands. But she gradually adapted, making friends with the local people and learning how to live and work as they did. Thirty years later Zhang, who has been living and teaching in Vancouver since 1989, returned to Mongolia where she witnessed dramatic social changes in society and in the life of her old Mongolian friends. This film tells the story of Zhang's return through her own eyes.

Cha Jung HeeAsiaLENS
Documentary Film Screenings

AsiaLENS is a series of free public film screenings and lecture / discussion programs -- organized by AEMS in collaboration with the Spurlock Museum -- presenting recent documentary films on issues reflecting contemporary life in Asia.

AsiaLENS Spring 2011 Calendar:

Last Train Home (Lixin Fan, 2009, 85 min.)

RESCHEDULED Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 7:00pm  


Dishonored (Sigrun Norderval & Gard A. Andreassen, 2007, 52 min.) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 7:00pm

The Sweetest Embrace: Return to Afghanistan (Najeeb Mirza, 2008, 74 min.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 7:00pm

In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee (Deann Borshay Liem, 2010, 62 min.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 7:00pm

CLICK HERE for more info on AsiaLENS
The Asian Educational Media Service has completed the selection of films for the 2011 joint AAS-ICAS meeting in Honolulu March 31-April 2. 29 films were selected from 95 submissions. Look for a complete listing, including ordering information, in our March 2011 issue of News and Reviews.

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About AEMS
Media Production Group
In addition to hosting film screenings, AEMS also produces and distributes its own materials under the brand name Media Production Group (MPG) .  These are short educational videos and DVDs about an aspect of Asian culture suitable for classroom use and accompanied by curriculum.  MPG titles. 

AEMS maintains a searchable database of over 6,000 films about Asia, including length, format, distributor and synopsis.  search the database

AEMS library, through its connection to the Lincoln Trails library system, circulates videos and DVDs locally from its collection of more than 2,000.  view


Asian Educational Media Service
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