Children at a Village School – Jiang Nengjie


This documentary is about a school in the mountainous area of Hunan and focuses on left-behind children in three families. Due to contradiction between backward rural appearance and urban development, the fate of the three generations interwoven together.


Synopsis of Children at a Village School

Guangming Primary School is a remote mountain village school in Hunan. In 2009, the school had 22 students, 17 of whom with parents of migrant workers. This documentary follows three of the families of left-behind children for six years. It shows these children’s difficulties such as lack of parental care, poor material life, and limited educational resources have never changed.

The faculty of the school is weak, and teachers are poorly paid. Old grandparents or elder brothers and sisters, who have no time to spare, can be these children’s daily guardians. The students are not carefully taught, and their grades and mentality are worrying.

Year after year, will their parents come back to reunite with them?

At the end of the film, the education of left-behind children, the salary and welfare of urban migrant workers and the future development of agriculture constitute complex and urgent problems.

Children at a Village School is the first documentary of The Left-Behind Children Trilogy. The other two are The Ninth Grade and Jia Yi.

Read our blog post to see reviews about issues reflected by this film from local audience.


1 hour 30 minutes | English & Simplified Chinese subtitles | HD (1920×1080)
China | 2014
Director: Jiang Nengjie
Production Company: MianHuaSha Film Studio

Awards & Film Festivals

1. Winner of First Prize, 2013 Frankfurt Film Festival – China in Motion
2. Nomination, 2014 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival (The Golden Kapok Award)
3. Nomination, 2014 China Academy Awards of Documentary Film
4. Winner of Best Documentary Feature, 3rd Phoenix Video Documentary Award
5. Official Selection, 4th Xi’an China International Folk Video Festival

Highlight Endorsement

“This is the largest true record of Chinese society and the deepest care to reality. Thought-provoking!”
Phoenix Video Documentary Award

“As a left-behind child, I really cried many times after watching this.”
Guo Lei, Douban reviewer

Reasons for Recommendation

1. Children at a Village School has the rating of 8.8 on Douban.
2. It focuses on migrant workers and education of left-behind children, which reflects the profound problems of China’s social ecology and economic structure.
3. The film shows the real situation and the changes over a span of five years.

More Info

1. Related blog posts
2. Music:
Avec Soin by Kevin MacLeod
Gymnopedie No. 2 by Kevin MacLeod

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