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From The dGenerate Films Collection
Youth (Spring)

A film by Wang Bing

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YOUTH (SPRING) is a documentary driven by the thrum of industrial sewing machines — just like the lives of the young garment workers it portrays.

The town of Zhili, about 95 miles from Shanghai, is a center for the children’s garment industry. Workers in their teens and early twenties come from surrounding provinces to live in sparse, trash-strewn concrete dorms in the same buildings as the small factories where they spend their days sewing leggings, shorts, fluffy skirts, and jackets with Mickey Mouse hoods.

A remarkably intimate documentary filmed over five years, YOUTH takes us into these independent workshops — many on a street named Happiness Road. Relationships form and fall apart. Young women fend off their co-workers’ advances. Managers and employees engage in intense negotiations over piece-work rates. Unexpected pregnancies throw couples and their families into turmoil. There are fights over shared washrooms, decisions over whether to stay or quit and go home, and many, many meals of take-out noodles.

A successor to Wang Bing’s 2017 film BITTER MONEY, YOUTH is not an exposé of the garment industry. Instead, it draws us into the lives of its subjects — young people who don’t make their beds, worry about having the latest iPhone, and occasionally engage in a food fight. Like so many of us, they’re doing the best they can in a challenging environment.

"Critic's Pick! An exhortation not to forget the unseen.” —The New York Times

“Lived experience is the essence of Youth (Spring) as well as it is of Wang’s project. As a filmmaker he embeds himself in China’s working classes, working his own trade alongside them.” —J. Hoberman, The Nation

“Consistently engaging. Like Frederick Wiseman, Wang is a lofty filmmaking doc deity who moves in mysterious, glacial ways, but one who sometimes performs miracles.” —The Hollywood Reporter

“[Wang Bing's] scale and purpose are always impressive.” —Ion Cinema

“[An] immersive, 3.5-hour opus.” —IndieWire

Youth (Spring) is possibly the most significant document of Chinese garment workers ever created.” —Paste Magazine

“Wang’s micro portraits add up to a larger canvas on which the dreams and hopes of an entire toiling generation are outlined.” —Vogue

“Each detail opens up a possible new story—about labor, love, youth, the nation. It is extremely contemporary, and at the same time it recalls a pre-cinematic era with its extraordinary directness. Most of all, it is a deeply sad film—one of the saddest I saw this year.” —Radu Jude, Film Comment

“A rare window into a world of life and work that might be specific but has clear echoes in scenarios the world over.” —TimeOut

“An absolute gift to sit through.” —Film Inquiry

“Bing smartly gives fast fashion the slow cinema treatment in Youth as he immerses audiences in the sweaty cacophony of broken dreams that fuels their wardrobe.” —POV Magazine

“How can you not be moved by the simple gesture of this very film?” —The Film Stage

“An observational practice that tries to expose systemic exploitation without reducing its subjects to their plight, a political gesture tempered by humanism.” —The Film Experience

“Even though the three-and-a-half-hour runtime is daunting, it’s necessary to communicate the film’s complex ideas. Bing also navigates the runtime effectively, using the repetitiveness of footage to explain to audiences that they’re only seeing a tiny fraction of a worker’s day, let alone their life.” —Under the Radar

“Wang’s concern, in this global context, is re-humanization.” —Joysauce.com

“A momentous documentary that pushes the limits of cinema with its observational perspective, which in turn presents audiences with a portrait of a world that we may feel utterly disconnected from as we engage with consumer culture every single day.” —Foremost Film

“Youth (Spring) transcends classification... Until language allows for a word beyond ‘experimental,’ it may be more accurate to simply refer to it as one of the key documents of—and about—our time.” —Reverse Shot

“Paints a vivid picture of both struggle and resilience, ambition and reality. On first viewing, it's clear: Bing isn’t just making a film; he’s crafting a legacy, thread by thread.” —Overly Honest Movie Reviews

“Accessible to the younger generations of Americans with similar struggles and dreams.” —Nonfics

“Never dull, and by the end you feel you haven’t just observed these young workers, you’ve been immersed in their world.”  —theartsstl

Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2023
Official Selection, New York Film Festival 2023
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2023
Official Selection, Busan International Film Festival 2023
Winner, Best Documentary, Golden Horse Awards 2023
Winner, Douglas Edwards Experimental Film Prize, Los Angeles Film Critics Awards 2023
Nominee, Best Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival 2023
Nominee, Best Experimental Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary, Reykjavik International Film Festival 2023
Nominee, Best Documentary, Valladolid International Film Festival 2023 

215 minutes / Color
Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2023

For individual consumers (home video)

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
China, Labor Studies, Asia, dGenerate Films Collection - Documentaries

Related Links:
The Films of Wang Bing

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