In the years following the 1911 Xinhai revolution in China, the country was rapidly emerging into international affairs for the first time. Yet its emergence was on the backs of an unlikely group of Chinese peasants who were sent to an imperialist war they didn’t understand.

The First World War erupted in 1914 and by 1916 Allied powers had suffered devastating casualties. As a result British, French and Chinese states formed agreements to send almost 140,000 Chinese labourers to the battlefields of Europe.

85,000 of this newly formed ‘Chinese Labour Corps’ were secretly transported across Canada in locked CPR trains during the racist Chinese Head Tax period. They were then shipped to Europe where thousands died clearing munitions and the dead on the Western Front.

Zhang Yan, a student from the same Shandong villages as the labourers of WWI, travels three continents to reconnect Chinese families to their missing ancestors who died overseas. Following the diary notes of a young Chinese interpreter in WWI he hopes to restore the collective memory of those in China who have largely forgotten the journey these men made nearly 100 years ago.



Behind the Scenes

From the Archives

Production Team


Gu Xingqing    Sky Kao

Sun Gan    Jian Ping Su

Dr. Harry Livingstone    Chris Cope

2nd Lt. Daryl Klein    Robert Lawrenson

Major Wells    William Samples

Major James    Steve James

Major Tyms    Mackenzie Gray

Kao Wenzhe    Wei Xin

Zhang Yan    Himself

Xu Guoqi    Himself

Gregory James    Himself

Philip Vanhaelemeersch    Himself

Gérard Tchang    Himself

Sun Guanglong    Himself


Executive Producers    Ying Wang, Aimin Liu

Director    Jordan Paterson

Screenwriter    Jordan Paterson, Natasha Damiano

Cinematography    Jordan Paterson, Norm Li, CSC

Production Design    Cole Paterson, Candise Paul

Editing    Jordan Paterson

Music    Mark Korven / Ken Myhr

Casting Directors    Jian Ping Su / Edward Rea

Dialogue Coach    Laura Carnet

Sound    He Wei

Producer    Jordan Paterson

Line-Producer    Jian Ping Su

Production with the support of    Rare Earth Media Inc.

Rogers Media / OMNI TV, Creative BC

Canadian Distribution    Rare Earth Media Inc.

Jordan Paterson at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards

Jian Ping Su, Natasha Damiano, Jordan Paterson, Ying Wang at VIFF red carpet.

Awards & Screenings

2016 Canadian Screen Awards – Best Cinematography in a Documentary Program or Series

2016 Canadian Screen Awards – Best Production Design in a Non-Fiction Program or Series

2015 Vancouver International Film Festival – Audience Must See Award

2015 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival – Best International Production

2015 Leo Awards – Best Short documentary program

2015 Leo Awards – Best Cinematography in a documentary program or series

2015 Leo Awards – Best Editing in a documentary program or series

2015 Yorkton Film Festival – Best Director

2015 Yorkton Film Festival – Best Research

2015 Canada International Film and Television Festival – Best documentary

Portland Film Festival – Official Selection

Victoria Film Festival – Official Selection