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Migrant Labour series:Farmer-run Factory

Hu Jie

Release year: 1997-1998

Run time: 10 mins

Film type: Documentary


After Reform and Opening, farmers can finally leave the poor rural areas to find jobs in cities. However, the only jobs they can find are those dirty, tiring, dangerous and low-paid jobs that the people in the city don't want to do. From 1997 to 1998, in Nanjing, I filmed migrant workers engaged in different professions for this series of short films: "Scaffolders", "House Demolition Workers", "Cleaners", "Farmer-run Factory", and so on.

Shao Feng, a farmer, comes from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. Because of fierce competition from local enterprises, Shao Feng moved his wife, children, mother and sister to Nanjing. They borrow money to buy equipment, rent workshops, and set up hardware processing plants; here, they process small parts and spray paint on equipment.

This film tracks their family life, their desire to set up factories, and their plans for the future. As time passed, though the family had a lot of work, they were unable to collect payments and could not find regular customers; they got into financial trouble. After initially struggling, Shao Feng admitted his failure. He sold his equipment, and prepared to go home and think about how to start a new business.


Director biography

Hu Jie is an independent historian, artist, and filmmaker. Born in Jinan, Shandong in 1958, he graduated from the Art College of the People’s Liberation Army. He works in oils and woodcuts from his lakeside studio in Nanjing. His films are among the most important documents of China’s unacknowledged “unoffcial history”, and include Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul (2005), about a martyr-poet critic of Mao; and Though I Am Gone (2007), about an elite Beijing girls’ high school whose students murdered their headmaster at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.