Youth (Spring)

From The dGenerate Films Collection

Directed by Wang Bing

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

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

“[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

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

“Wang Bing’s YOUTH (SPRING) offers an immersive, cinéma vérité portrait of young migrant workers… Though his film is never less than entertaining, there's the overwhelming sense that these young people are exploited, expendable—and stuck.” —Video Librarian

Other Ways to Watch


Home use DVD for $29.98

Available online from:

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $350.00

Available for educational streaming from:

Select Accolades

  • 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  


Documents China's rapid economic and social transformation by following the rural workers who leave their Yunnan hometown to move to the city of Huzhou to work in its textile factories.

Wang Bing | 2017 | 152 minutes | Color | Mandarin | English subtitles

Dead Souls documents the testimony of survivors of the hard-labor camp in the Gobi Desert in Gansu, China.

Wang Bing | 2018 | 506 minutes | Color | Mandarin | English subtitles

WANG Xilin, 86, is one of China’s most important modern classical composers. In this film by Wang Bing, he revisits some of the horrifying events that still live on in his memory.

Wang Bing | 2023 | 60 minutes | Color | Mandarin | English subtitles

The daily life of Ta'ang refugees, a Burmese ethnic minority who are caught between a civil war and the Chinese border.

Wang Bing | 2017 | 147 minutes | Color | Burmese; Mandarin; English | English subtitles

Three little sisters live alone in a small village in the high mountains of the Yunnan region. The little girls don't go to school, spending their days working in the fields or wandering in the village.

Wang Bing | 2016 | 153 minutes | Color | English; Mandarin | English subtitles

The daily lives and isolation of a group of men locked on one floor of a Chinese city's psychiatric institution.

Wang Bing | 2016 | 238 minutes | Color | English; Mandarin | English subtitles