Shanghai Farmer

简体中文China2008 / 52min / DVCAM
Director:Xu Jun

The documentary is about a group of migrant workers in Shanghai and the camera is cast upon a group living in the work shed in a university, who come from the rural areas across China.


The documentary mainly focuses on the life of two groups of migrant workers. One group is mainly middle-aged migrant workers, who simply come and work to support their families. They live a rather monotonic life in the off-work hours and walking in the university hall and watching a performance by the university students would totally make their day. But as simply as this dream seems, it is almost beyond reach since they are often rejected by the guarding students for their identity and appearance. They cannot help but angrily questions these well-educated people “do you know it is us who built this hall?” This line often shut the people up.

Another protagonist in the documentary is WANG Bing. He is only 22 but he had make a living far away from his hometown. He holds drastically different values from those middle-aged workers and goes out shopping, drinking with his friends. He is just like those white-collar salary men, always pennyless soon after he gets his monthly pay. He has a girlfriend who shares the same work shed with him, which makes his fellow migrant worked all jealous about. But nobody knows how they are no longer in love, despite his efforts to please his girlfriend. In the end, his girlfriend left Shanghai and him, but before leaving, the girl confesses her love for WANG Bing, which had puzzled WANG Bing for a long time and  eventually ends nowhere.

Money and love are the two main themes that can be found everywhere in the world. Shanghai, the sleepless city, attracts many people with its splendid prosperity and extravagance, just like everyone's dreams; however, is there any superiority and inferiority between dreams? We always complain about the cruelty of life and are never satisfied with what we have today. Now, take a look at those so-called “migrant workers” who have left their hometown to work in other places. They seem to be telling us: live our life and be earnest and happy.


Director: Xu Jun

Born in Nantong, Jiangsu province, and now lives in Shanghai. He entered the College of Communication and Arts, TongjiUniversity in 2003 and now a graduate student in College of Communication and Art.


From the Director

“Shanghai Farmer” is my first documentary. We read all kinds of reports, both positive and negative, about the migrant workers from the media. They are a vulnerable fundmental group with the Chinese communist characteristics and I’m deeply attracted to their daily life. I chose to focus on their daily life after work is because it’s easier for us to imagine what it’s like when they work but we hardly have any chance to learn about their life after a hard day's work.

From the moment I started approaching them, I realized how little I knew about them. Although they never had a chance to received higher education, their understanding about life and their attitudes towards life are much more mature than us. It is due to our carelessness that their lives in their free time seem so boring. Quite often, they have to find ways to entertain themselves. The hardship in their lives is beyond what we can imagine, but they hardly even complains their it. Their optimism and strength is something that many of us lack.

During the filming of “Shanghai Farmer”, I was often moved by their humility and frankness. I was not making a documentary about them; rather, I was learning from them about their attitude towards life. The only thing they ask for is getting paid on time so that they can provide their families, and they live to make with their loved ones happy everyday. Their dream to live is so simple, yet so practical.

Some people feel that they have a really depressed life, and that’s because they desire too many. With less material desires and a more relaxed attitude, maybe you can have a totally different life!