Tong Zhanhai, a local farmer in the village of Xihaigu of Ningxia Province in China’s Northwest hopes that his children will one day leave their hometown, to find a better life elsewhere. The area is indeed a very harsh and unforgiving environment condemning its people to be among the poorest in China. So every year, at wheat harvest time, he leaves his home to work elsewhere in order to pay for his children’s education.
When the kites start to fly, Tong Zhanhai and a small group of other farmers begin their annual migrant trek, crossing the over 500 kilometres from Ningxia to neighbouring Shaanxi. Their goal is the Guanzhong plain, with its rich soils and abundant water supply, helping the people there by hand-harvesting wheat, like in the olden days.
The film records the dayly life of this group of seasonal workers and witnesses their constant struggle to find employment in the more and more mechanized farms. They are facing the harsh reality: the wheat harvest which once took the hand-reaper one month to finish, can now be completed by a combined harvesting machine in only one morning. They manage to find farmers who are willing to pay them, but at a much lower rate than usual.
So when Tong Zhanhai returns home and brings funds for his daughters to continue their studies, his companions warn him: this was the last year they will go along with him. And indeed, after a year has passed, and kites are again flying, Tong Zhanhai is the only person in the village to leave for the Guanzhong Plain. We are left wondering how he will handle the daily struggle lying ahead of him.
Available languages : English, French