This film is part of Free

A Small Town in China

Missionaries mingle with the locals in this intimate portrait of community life in an unidentified Chinese town.

Amateur film 1933 9 mins Silent


Shot by Methodist missionaries, this is an incredibly charming record of small-town life in an unidentified location in China. We see a bustling wharf town with canal-side dwellings, distinctive school buildings, and a hospital where newly graduated nurses pose for a group portrait. The relaxed smiles of Chinese and Europeans are captured in intimate close-ups, suggesting a tight-knit community.

Highlights include children leap-frogging in the school yard, an extensive Boy Scout parade, grinning schoolteachers in dickie bows, and a lovely scene in which young nurses cheer up a forlorn-looking patient with an apple. We've not found a town known as Dan Tau - the phonetic English translation of Chinese characters on a railway sign in the film's opening scene. But we can speculate that this may have been shot somewhere near Hong Kong or in Guangdong Province, where English signage was common.