In preparation for this month's discussion of Leslie Chang's Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, here are a few suggestions for films you may also enjoy as a supplement to the book:
First, Manufactured Landscapes is a documentary on the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky traces the path of rampant consumerism from manufacture to landfill starting on the floor of a Chinese factory. For more on Burtynsky visit his website and browse the stills. The film is essential for understanding the monumental scale of the Chinese manufacturing (and disassembling) enterprise.
The documentary Up the Yangtze follows a young girl as she leaves her family to find work aboard a cruise ship in the Three Gorges Dam area. Although this is not factory work, the challenges and transformation for this child and her family are similar to those described by Chang.
Finally, the films of Chinese director Jia Zhang Ke feature a recurring theme of dislocation in the midst of societal transformation on a massive scale. The pacing can at times be tedious, but I found Still Life, also set in the Three Gorges area, to be one of his most accessible and is worth seeing for the cinematography alone.