Little Film Review: Last Harvest (2012)

Last Harvest (2014)
Jane Hui Wang

The “South-to-North Water Diversion Project” is perhaps the world’s largest geoengineering project. Its aim is to to divert water from southern China to northern China. It is much larger in scale and cost than the Three Gorges Dam, 800,000 people are being relocated, and their homes and farmlands are submerged behind dams.

Jane Hui Wang’s quiet and intimate documentary observes this massive event from the perspective of one elderly farming couple. Wang accompanies the Xu family in their day-to-day lives as they pack up their farmhouse and prepare to move to the resettlement village.

The film feels deceptively uneventful at first. There is no shocking scandal revealed in Last Harvest. The Xus thrash their last rice. They pack their furniture. They wait. But the massive events unfolding offscreen loom in the periphery. As the inevitability of their relocation sets in, you are reminded of the magnitude of the project. The Xu’s experience is being replicated by hundreds of thousands of others across China.

With her engaging subjects and patient camera, Wang has successfully demonstrated how to make a personal and uncontrived film with global relevance.