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“Youth (Spring)” film review: Wang Bing's colorful documentary portrayal of oriental garment workers

The first thing anyone can say about the work of respected documentary filmmaker Wang Bing is that he makes riveting but lengthy films. Like, really, really long. His debut novel West of the Tracks (Tie Xi Qu), about a crumbling industrial estate, has two versions, One five version and the other nine hours, give or take. Crude Oil – as the name suggests, portrait of an oil worker – across 35 Hour.

Two of his films were screened in Cannes this year – in competition Youth (Spring) and special screening Man in Black — so three and a half hours and 76 minutes respectively, in Wang’s terms Say, they’re pretty much shorts. Length aside, Youth (the subtitle in parentheses Spring heralding a string of movies) is always engaging, even if it’s not always It’s so easy to see what the whole package is trying to say and couldn’t say more succinctly. Like Frederick Wiseman

, Wang is a sublime filmmaker who works in mystical, glacial ways, but also works miracles at times. Youth (spring)

Bottom line Wisemanian window into a world.

Like Wang’s recent documentBitter Money (928706, tight60 minutes), youth (spring) takes root among workers in the garment industry in East China. For most of the screening, the film unfolds on several streets in a very special industrial zone in Zhili, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province. The region has been known for silk manufacturing and textile production for centuries, long before the start of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Clothing and its ancillary industries continue to dominate the region’s economy, but they operate in slightly different ways in Zhili.

As explained in the fascinating detail in the film’s press release (sadly barely in the film, though knowing it would heighten audience interest), this is one of the very few areas , in these areas, small family businessmen operate a sub-segment of the apparel industry, rather than the all-powerful country, mainly producing children’s clothing for the domestic market. There are thousands of workshops in the area, collectively referred to as workshops 76, 60 or anything else, usually run by actual self-employed people who negotiate with the workforce how much the mechanics will be paid per piece, depending on the complexity of the build. ( By the way, this system has worked in different ways for hundreds of years in several historic textile centers, including the Northeastern United States, when the region’s textile industry was booming.)

a lot Much of the film, especially the later hours, is spent watching these delicate boss-worker negotiations as they haggle back and forth—sometimes surrounded by onlookers with vested interests on both sides— Regarding whether a piece of clothing is worth yuan or one piece. ( RMB is worth 1 USD. 35 Approx.) Wang is not interested in the big picture of whether this price is fair in the context of the world economy. (Obviously, that’s a pitiful figure compared to what American workers earn for the same piece.) Rather, it’s really about the drama of the interaction; even if you don’t speak Mandarin or the local dialect, you can Some young workers, some in their teens, were seen as poor negotiators when taking on local bosses with a hawkish eye on profits.

This very Wisemanian attention to detail and how it reveals larger truths about communities and institutions is the essence of Wang’s practice here. In some way, all human life lives in these dirty, messy, crowded workshops. Sewers sometimes work 14 hours on industrial machinery, they argue, flirt, debate, giggle Laughing, teasing and mocking each other. It started off with two lads throwing empty spools at each other and getting into a fight, which a female colleague described as a stupid cockfight, which was apt. Later, a young man tries to reconcile with his ex-wife as she goes through a sewing machine piece by piece.

I watched this movie sitting next to Stephanie Zacharek of Time who was a passionate home sewing worker like myself and after the fact we All that said we keep expecting someone to cut off a finger on a serger, especially considering how quickly some workers pull their pieces through the machine. In fact, the film sometimes feels like a disaster movie in the making, as the workers are constantly smoking while sewing and are in danger of catching fire at any moment, especially considering they’re using so much flammable synthetic fiber. (One complains about how horrible it is to work with them now.)

On the other hand, those who understand the skills involved in the work these guys do are probably their main target audience for this movie . There’s something dizzying and almost as soothing as an ASMR video, watching them line up, sew pant legs one by one, without a single pin, and score straight stitches on a quilted fiber sandwich for outerwear. There has been a boom in documentaries and fictional films about garment workers amid growing interest in the environmental impact of the global textile industry and the industry’s treatment of workers in developing countries. This is a great contribution to the sub-genre.

But it’s also an outsider, because there’s no debate about fairness or injustice here. Wang is more interested in people wearing colorful, incongruous, knock-off designer clothes. It’s up to us the audience to draw deeper conclusions. At film festivals, where people sometimes care more about who wears what on the red carpet, this offers a sobering reflection on another aspect of the fashion world.

All credits

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Competition) Produced by: House On Fire, Gladys Glover & CS Production , Arte France Cinéma, Les Films Fauves, Volya Films, Dongshi Culture Media, Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation, Le Fresnoy – Studio National Des Arts Contemporains Director: Wang Bing Producers: Sonia Buchman, Mao Hui, Nicolas R. De La Mothe, Vincent Wang executive producer: Wang Yang 928706 Co-producers: Gilles Chanial, Denis Vaslin, Fleur Knopperts, Wang Jia, Qiao Cui 2016 Director of Photography: Maeda Yoshitaka, Shan Xiaohui, Song Yang, Liu Xianhui, Ding Bihan, Wang Bing Editors: Dominique Auvray, Xu Bingyuan, Liyo Gong928706 Sound Designer: Ranko Paukovic
Sales: Pyramid International 3 hours35 minute

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