Around the World in Eighty Couches

16 01 2012

We’ve heard it all: backpacking Asia, roadtrip around America, hitchhiking Ireland, cruising the Amazon, jeep safari in Africa, sailing the Carribean to trekking the Himalayas one way or another we knew a friend of a friend whose uncle’s neighbour’s daughter’s bestfriend whose dentist’s assistant’s niece did this. But Fleur had something different in mind: to experience Central Asia not by mode of transportation, but through mode of hospitality.

It’s one way to sleep with 20 other people in one room in a hostel, but it’s another thing to walk in to a total stranger’s house and sleep on their couch. We’d do it for friends if they need to crash for the night, right? Why not to strangers?
It’s a bit crazy.

“Fleur is about to lose her couchsurfing virginty as she travels through China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, joining the burgeoning couchsurfing community. Fleur is on a mission to discover what motivates people to intive total strangers to sleep on their sofa and what it is that has made couchsurfing such a global phenomenon. “

As Fleur experiences the global phenomenon of couchsurfing we are introduced to a world where the place is about the peoples’ homes. From mats to cots, on the floor or on a bed that seemed half consumed already by bed bugs to a close encounter of sharing a bed with a couple, a new breed of hospitality is born. When doors are open wide and beds made for Fleur, a sultry ensemble of characters will deliver a story to tell worth reading for.
Maybe in the comfort of your own couch.

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Last Train Home

6 03 2010

There are over 130 million migrant workers in China.
They go home only once a year, on Chinese New Year
This is the world’s largest human migration.

Only a handful of movies have the real power of moving a crowd in a theater. It is when emotions are felt, words hit the heart, scenes are full of awe and the characters become the source of compassion to the crowd.

However, this movie is not about Avatar.

In the day and age of 3D and Hollywood mega effects, moviegoers are subjected to unrealistic and manufactured characters that are so detached to real emotions. We follow fictional characters in hopes that we could relate to them, but director Lixin Fan had a different idea for his next film. Following the success of his first documentary film Up the Yangtze , Fan is a genius on this creative film about a migrant family trying to make ends meet while sacrificing the most essential necessity in a home – family ties.

Fifteen years ago, Changhua and Suqin Zhan left their sleepy town to work in the big city to support their family; their children, Qin and Yang were left with their grandmother. Over the years the couple lost their ties with their daughter (Qin) and as she grew up have become curious about independence. The couple, who both worked in factories, feared that their rebellious daughter will follow their footsteps.

Following the documentary the audience is exposed to the lives of the Zhans. The viewer is caught in a world stricken with intense oppression. Battling out financial difficulties and future dilemmas, sacrifices are an everyday challenge to the Zhans and it isn’t long until tears run down your cheek.

As the film succumbs in a story revolving around the Zhans, the documentary also focuses on poverty, chaos, and hardships of other migrant workers in China. Every year millions of people are dealt with a journey home that unlike ‘coming home stories’ are very difficult. Train stations packed, tickets being sold out, cancellations or delays, and people quarrel within jumble. Some do give up in the process, but others will try to get home.

“If the family can’t even spend the New Year together, life would be pointless”

Winner of numerous Film Festival Awards (Best Film from Quebec/Canada) and an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, Last Train Home is a riveting masterpiece that is not to be missed, and when you do, don’t forget to bring a box of tissue.

Destination: China
Director: Lixin Fan
Deat of Release: November 20, 2009