China has nearly 300 million migrant workers, just like the Fangs. The Fang’s story sheds light on the modern Chinese family as a fractured unit. The film focuses on how everyone copes in their struggle with their multiple children, and how they hide to avoid detection of the old but still in-effect One Child Policy rules from the prior generation.
Rapid development in China has led to massive urban migration. However, crossing province borders to find work is prohibited, because the government intents to discourage over-crowding, poverty, and crime. This has not stopped the hundreds of millions of desperate, undocumented migrant workers, like the Fangs, in search of wages. The Fangs are part of an underrepresented yet essential workforce as a pillar of Chinese economy.
Modern China is haunted by its old traditions. The preference for male offspring pushes the Fangs to have many abortions. While the old One Child Policy pressured them to evade Population Control Police, now, they have new challenges. How to care for children with whom they find little connection.
Their two daughters had met their parents once a year, but feel abandoned and get teased. They question their self-worth while still trying to forge ahead under family pressure to make money get married. Meanwhile, their third child and only son, basks in a life of privilege, benefits and parental affection and attention as some call him “the little Emperor”.
The parents long for their children with a sustained sense of hope, and expect success from them in ways that they could not achieve. But, lament on how they struggled to get here and yet they are hopeful and persist, a symbol of human triumph over immeasurable odds and undue hardship.
Notes on the Production
Research and development started in 2006. After conducting three field visits over 2 years, production commenced in the summers and winters of 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2017. The budget was under $20,000, mostly from travel costs, translation and production support in China.
Funding was provided by PSC-CUNY Research Award and Leonard & Claire Tow Travel Grant.
The following methods were implemented to off-set and lower energy consumption, i.,e, the Carbon-footprint, and eliminate waste:
- Carbon-emissions from five international flights was off-set by purchasing carbon-offsets (while the filmmaker is aware this does not work effectively); this filmmaker used public transportation such as trains and buses from his home in Brooklyn to Shantang street in Suzhou or locations in Nanchang from 2008 to 2017.
- Zero-emissions from energy consumption in terms of electrical supply for production and post-production; this filmmaker used rechargeable batteries and all energy supplied was from alternative and renewable energy power like solar and wind suppliers in Brooklyn. In Suzhou, recharging of batteries was performed via solar panels provided by a local hostel.
- Zero-plastic use; there were no plastic bottles or forks or packaging materials used so there was zero waste generated from the production or post-production process. Some plastics used by the Fang family for food preparation had nothing to do with this production.
- Zero-materials use; there was no aluminum or other materials used in food consumption during the production or post-production because all food sources were locally, organically acquired or prepared.