Lixin Fan

Lixin Fan’s Biography-Filmography

Fan Lixin was the first Chinese documentary filmmaker to get an American Emmy Award in two categories: “best documentary” and “best long-form business and economic reporting.”

His career in documentaries started in 1998. In 2003, he did the editing work for “To Live Is Better Than To Die,” a film that won several awards in the United Kingdom and the United States. Before that, he has worked in the international department of CCTV. In 2006, he represented the Chinese side for the shooting and production of a documentary film “Up the Yangtze,” jointly produced with Canada. This film got the best documentary film award in Vancouver film festival in 2007 and was nominated for Emmy awards in 2008.

In 2006, he also started to work on his long-feature documentary film “The Last Train Home.” The fate of the Nongmingong (migrant workers) has always been an obsessing theme for him. Because he himself was born and raised in a peasant family and also because he has worked for television, therefore traveling extensively across China and being a direct witness of the radical changes experienced daily in China over the past decade. Those changes have had a very strong impact on the balance between tradition and modernity, family and society.

This film production lasted three years and has drawn worldwide attention as soon as it was released. “The Last Train Home” won the best documentary film in Montreal international documentary film festival, and then was selected in the international film festival of Amsterdam where the very coveted Joris Ivens documentary prize, the first time it was ever given to a Chinese documentary filmmaker. Thereafter, “The Last Train Home” driving force lead it even farther on the road of glory: in America, it won two Emmy Awards, the Los Angeles critics prize, the best documentary prize of the San Francisco and the Los Angeles film festivals and got selected as one of the 10 best films of the year by the New York Times and the jury of the Toronto Film Festival. Elsewhere, the film got the gold medal of the Abu-Dhabi Film Festival, attended the prestigious French Cinéma du Réel Film Festival, the Hong Kong international film festival, the Zurich film festival and in other festivals around the globe. Overall, the film received more than 40 awards. Although it missed by a narrow margin an official nomination, the film got a mention “notable omission” from the Oscars’ jury and has kept making news in specialized festivals around the world. In short, the worldwide success of this film has set a precedent in the Chinese filmmakers’ world.

Fan Lixin success on the international audiovisual scene gained him consideration from a large number of professionals all over the world. In 2010, Fan Lixin received the prestigious “Trail Blazer Award” from the MIPDOC (event associated to the Cannes Festival) for a work “making a major social contribution”. The same year, it got the best director award from the One World Media festival (UK) and became a jury member in several well-known documentary festivals and television events, including the Amsterdam documentary film festival.

In 2014, Fan Lixin followed a group of young boys enter a Chinese TV talent show called Super Boy, who hopes to be catapulted to fame. Lixin focused on those boys during several months, trying to understand and show the public about the young general, how the young boys coped with their new challenging lives. Talent shows create a new type of entertainer, but can they still keep their true selves? Can they adjust themselves and balance the ups and downs? What have the ten years of Chinese talent shows given us? What is urging us to grow up?

In this film, Lixin tried a new way of marketing, by using the crowd-funding, he and his group has raised 5 millions RMB within 20 days, which might be a new way out for the whole documentary industry.