Source: Youku Video Screen Capture
In the last post, “Distant Family: Chinese Migrant Workers’ Winter” produced by NHK was introduced. Today another NHK product will be discussed. The name of the documentary is “Spidermen in Shanghai.” To watch the documentary, click here or just click the picture above.
In documentaries or feature movies introduced before, migrant workers often appear as a group, without any emphasis in a specific occupation. There are all kinds of professions migrant workers do such as carpenter, bricklayer, and cementer. This documentary features a particular group of people – glass cleaners for skyscraper, who are also called “spidermen.” It uses spidermen in Shanghai as representatives.
There are two lines in the documentary based on two representative characters: one is Sun, Huicheng from Huai’an, Jiangsu province; the other is Yuan, Zihua from Jiujiang, Jiangxi province. Resemblance s can be easily found between these two people: first of all, they are both spidermen, secondly they are both migrant workers in Shanghai, and thirdly they live with other migrant workers who come from the same place as they do.
What do spidermen do? They swipe glass for skyscrapers. This special occupation brings the first dramatic conflict to the documentary: they make the city fresh and bright yet not being a part of that fancy picture. Their poverty and nostalgia are sharing characteristics among migrant workers. Compared with other types of migrant workers, spidermen bear another risk – their lives.
One of the spidermen said the ropes are like their chopsticks – their lives depend on them. When asked why they choose Shanghai? The answer is either “For the opportunity of making money” or “For making more money.” To serve their families for better lives, they leave them and risk their lives serving the city.
Sun, Huicheng’s wife and children are not with him and Yuan, Zihua is in Shanghai with his wife, leaving their six-year-old daughter at home. Yuan, Zihua said he dreams his daughter a lot. The family has been separated since their daughter was two months old. The wish of providing children with a better education beats the emotion of missing them. They have to stay in Shanghai and make money to support the family.
The industry of “spidermen” is still developing. Du, Zhengwei, the boss of one spidermen company said there are 1500 spidermen companies and hundreds of thousands spidermen in China. However, the demand-supply ratio is 2:1, a lot more spidermen are needed.
Two newly trained spidermen in Yuan, Zihua’s team are introduced: one is Gan, Xiqiang and the other is Wang, Wanwei. Wan spoke frankly that “No one would do the job willingly. This is life we are talking about.”
Thanks NHK for producing this documentary, revealing a special type of migrant workers. People should know what these people have done for the city and what kind of lives they are living. To use one line in this documentary to end this post, “There will be no modern city without the feed from the village.”