September 17, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

The mind-boggling notion of 130 million Chinese migrant workers making their way home from inhospitable industrial cities to impoverished villages once each year gets a human face in Lixin Fan’s extraordinary, vital documentary Last Train Home. The filmmaker follows a couple — they work in a jeans factory seven days a week — on their arduous annual journey to visit the older and younger generations abandoned by China’s economic ”miracle.” This is essential viewing for understanding our world. A

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