„Information is becoming the engine of Chinese society,” says filmmaker Wang Bing

Chinese director Wang Bing holds a press conference for the film „Youth (Spring)” during the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2023.

Chinese filmmaker Wang Ping competes at the 76th Cannes Film Festival with „Youth (Spring),” a film about the brutality of textile workshops in a country that is „becoming an engine of the information society.”

„Youth (Spring)” describes the migration of young people from China’s interior to work near prosperous coastal cities such as Shanghai.

The operation takes place in Xili, 150 km from Shanghai. The youths sleep in the workshops, they do not rest, their only pastime is to escape from the daily exploitation and to think of marriage.

It’s a nearly 3h40 documentary shot between 2014 and 2019, shortly before the Covid pandemic and the progressive hardening of the regime, which Wang Bing watches with disbelief.

„Because China is entering a stage in its history where condemnation becomes the driving force of society, it will be very difficult to shoot,” he explained with an interpreter provided to AFP this Friday.

„I’m not the only one. All Chinese people are facing this reality,” he adds.

„Youth (Spring)” is the first part of a trilogy about the world of textile workshops, one of the triumphs of China’s economic development.

Wang Bing says he expects to finish a job by 9:30 a.m. in total.

Accustomed to shooting films of enormous proportions, Wang Bing has 2,600 hours of raw material, which he edits bit by bit in Paris, where he settled in post-production on this documentary three years ago.

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This soft-eyed man admits he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next.

– 'Total misunderstanding’ –

„I am very careful with the messages that come to me. The truth is that the changes that are happening are completely unexpected and I feel completely misunderstood,” he explains.

„Anyway, the amount of work I’ve put into this film is huge and I’m overwhelmed,” he explains in Paris.

The Covid pandemic has led Xi Jinping’s Communist government to try strict surveillance of society, using technology that has proven its effectiveness.

At the same time, Xi Jinping has strengthened his authority as the top leader after being re-elected as the head of the Communist Party in October 2022.

„Youth (Spring)” received good reviews at Cannes, but also questions about the length of the work.

Wang Bing, accustomed to these patterns since he started filming 20 years ago, was not upset by the comments.

„I understand that concern about a film not finding its audience because of its length. But for me it’s important to get to the end of what I consider the whole film,” he says.

Cleverly, and sometimes even secretly, Wang Bing’s works have been exhibited in international competitions.

In 2007, she presented the documentary „Fengming” at Cannes, a woman’s monologue to the camera revealing the upheavals China experienced throughout the 20th century.

„The Ditch” („La Fossa”, 2010) denounces forced labor camps for political prisoners in the Gobi desert in the 1960s under Mao’s terror.

And in 2017, he won the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno Festival for his documentary „Mrs. Fang,” about a woman with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Wang wrote and filmed „Conception” with Spanish director Jaime Rosales in 2011.

The Chinese director presents another documentary at Cannes, „Man in Black,” shot in a Parisian theater with exiled composer Wang Jilin.

Naked on stage, Wang Xilin recalled the torture he suffered during his imprisonment before immigrating to Germany.

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