I enjoyed this video for what it was, but I think it could have been much better. By trying to cover 9 people in just 90 minutes, you only get a brief glimpse of each person’s life. The interviewer spends most of each person’s time talking about mundane parts of their life like boyfriends and girlfriends and apartments. The video would have been much better if they looked at each person in more detail.
For example, one woman is a stock broker. The huge swings in the Chinese stock market have made many people rich and ruined many others. This is never discussed in the video.
Another woman is an environmental activist. The New York Times has printed a full page interview with her and called her the Erin Brockovich of China. That is never mentioned in the video. I would like to see a 2 hour documentary just about her. Her story is probably more interesting than the real Erin Brockovich.
Perhaps Chinese censors limited the scope of what this documentary could cover. Who knows?
Was this review helpful to you?
If you’re interested in China, there’s not a better starting place on film than Sue Williams’ amazing documentaries.
Her latest, “Young and Restless in China,” explores the lives of young men and women spiritually adrift in China’s new world. I’m using the term “spiritually” broadly in this case, but it really is the unifying theme that runs throughout these young lives. They’re all searching for some ultimate sense of meaning in a country that seems to be on the verge of overheating as the world’s biggest economic engine.
As a journalist, I’m hugely impressed with Sue Williams’ many years of commitment to exploring China and producing a long series of top-notch documentaries. If you’ve seen her earlier overviews of Chinese history, this new film opens with a breath-taking freshness – like jumping on the back of one of the motorcycles in the film and racing through the streets of China. (To see more of her earlier work, take a look at “China: A Century of Revolution” China: A Century of Revolution (Three Disc Set))
Without years of immersion in China, I can’t imagine how it would be possible to produce such a film with intimate access to the lives of young adults. I was especially touched by the life of Wei Zhanyan, who may appear to us as perhaps an American exchange student pursuing a college degree when we first glimpse her walking through the streets. In reality, she’s virtually a slave in China — an impoverished migrant worker who was forced to leave school at an early age to support her family. Eventually, she was forced into complete exile from her family to take a job assembling cell-phone headsets.
Somehow, Williams is able to follow her back to her tiny room, a sort of makeshift shelter, where Wei Zhanyan curls up and writes in her diary about life’s difficult challenges. She feels that she is carrying her entire family on her shoulders. She misses them very much – and yet she’s caught in a vice-grip of work and poverty. She says, “I don’t dare have any ideas or ideals.”
Some young Chinese rebel a little more openly like the rapper we meet with the word “reckless” tattooed in Chinese on his neck. He’s one of the motorcyclists we spot in the film. He says without a hint of awareness at the strange leap he is making: “Hip hop empowered me because I can identify with black people in America.”
Williams is such a good documentarian that we meet each of these “young and restless” men and women on their own terms without condescension or ironic twists forced upon the material by the filmmaker.
The openness in these stories will touch your heart even as it stirs your mind to a greater understanding of life in our world’s emerging superpower.
Think about seeing this film with a small group. There’s a lot to talk about here.
This is a great documentary video for people who are interested in learning Chinese culture or language. The documentary contains 9 stories with different characters who live in China now. The stories are so true and sometimes you are shocked by what you saw and heard. It is a good resource for people who want to know the lifestyles of Chinese young generation, what they think, what they pursue and what they suffer from. Overall, I recommend this video to all people who like to know today’s young generation in China.