Wang Bing, one of our greatest contemporary filmmakers, follows the daunting daily labour of young textile workers in Zhili, capturing the unseen realities of China’s out-of-the-ordinary local economy.


Wavelengths, TIFF '23

Youth (Spring)

Wang Bing

“In China, in the mid–20th century, during the revolutionary fervour, especially in art, there was an enormous overuse of the word and the idea of youth, to represent a revolutionary spirit. I wanted to reclaim it from that use and that meaning.”—Wang Bing

An immersive experience into the world of China’s young garment workers in the Yangtze Delta and Shanghai hinterland, the latest work by Wang Bing has the same breadth of perspective, and shares the same personal and artistic investment as his previous influential documentary, West of the Tracks (TIFF ’03).

Shot over the course of five years, from 2014 to 2019, in the city of Zhili, one of the main hubs of the country’s textile industry, the film condenses 2,600 hours of footage into a three-and-a-half-hour document of considerable visual strength and impact.

Cancelling the distance between viewers and protagonists, while carefully avoiding imposing any rhetoric, Wang Bing dives into chronicling lives of hard labour. What emerges is a vivid portrait of not only a regional economy, but the love, tenderness, and friendship experienced by its young textile workers. These 20-year-olds have migrated from their hometowns to work for a period of time in the sweatshop capital of China. They share everything. They stay and eat in common dormitories, meet in corridors or on balconies, and, above all, spend 15 hours a day at work, the constant hum of sewing machines forming the soundtrack of their destinies.

A mosaic of young lives made of segments of about 20 minutes, Youth (Spring) is the first chapter of a three-part documentary and is yet another masterpiece by Wang Bing.


Luminaries The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers. A designated subsection of films within Centrepiece, Wavelengths, and TIFF Docs sections.

Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival


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