Youth (Spring) (2023)

Youth (Spring) (2023)

A terrific three-hour documentary that explores what young Chinese factory workers do in and out of work

7.8

Movie

France, Luxembourg
Mandarin
Documentary
2023
WANG BING
212 min

TLDR

Before you mindlessly purchase another parka or sweater you don’t need, maybe put this on first and give it another think.

What it's about

On the outskirts of Shanghai, textile manufacturing factories are filled with young workers hoping to earn enough to move out of their homes and start families on their own. Along the way, they build (and just as often fall out of) friendships and romantic relationships and deal with things like limited resources, crowded dorms, and a less-than-understanding boss.

The take

Teenagers forced to grow up quickly and spend their prime years wiling away at garment factories sounds like a grim reality, and it is, but in Youth (Spring), Chinese documentarist Wang Bing captures more than just the inherent tragedy of young labor. Here, they build friendships, find love, discover an affinity for their craft, stand up for themselves against exploitative bosses, and look for ways to have fun. Even if it’s just as simple as eating street food, spending the night at an internet cafe, or finding nice clothes, we’re with them in every way. Though it’s never explicitly political, the documentary makes you think about the conditions that put the kids there in the first place, such as our insatiable need for cheap and trendy clothes, governments turning a blind eye to child labor, and a skewed system that favors these above people’s—especially young people’s—well-being and welfare.

What stands out

Bing and his team’s dedication to trail these many kids around and weave a story you can follow over three hours, and possibly more. Bing has said that Youth (Spring) is the first of a trilogy he plans on making about the same garment community in Shanghai.

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