Joseph Bien-Kahn


Capturing the Plight of Rural China’s ‘Left Behind’ Children

These filmmakers hope to support a mentorship program for the kids.

When Ben Keller and Oliver Brooks Hamilton, two seniors at Denison University, learned that their classmate Xinyi Hua had won a Davis Projects for Peace grant, they got right to work. Hua’s project centered on building a one-to-one mentorship program between college students and China’s “left behind” children, whose little-discussed reality is a significant issue in the country’s rural townships. Keller and Brooks, knowing they wanted to shoot a short documentary about the project, started applying for grants of their own, building a Kickstarter to fund the rest of the film’s $10,000 budget. A few months later, they were all in Longpao, a rural village near Nanjing, where they made the 18-minute “Left Behind,” released earlier this month.

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