Teenagers didn’t always exist. They had to be invented. As the cultural landscape around the world was thrown into turmoil during the industrial revolution, and with a chasm erupting between adults and youth, the concept of a new generation took shape. Whether in America, England, or Germany, whether party-crazed Flappers or hip Swing Kids, zealous Nazi Youth or frenzied Sub-Debs, it didn’t matter – this was a new idea of how people come of age. They were all “Teenagers.”

A hypnotic rumination on the genesis of youth culture from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th, TEENAGE is a living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and diary entries read by Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, and others. Set to a a shimmering contemporary score by Bradford Cox (Deerhunter / Atlas Sound), TEENAGE is a mesmerizing trip into the past and a riveting look at the very idea of “coming-of-age.”


“An entrancing collage that puts the voice of youth at the centre of a narrative in which the broad strokes of history tend to overlook them.” —NPR, Joel Arnold

"A feat of both editing and blurring-of-the-edges nonfiction technique, Matt Wolf's mesmerizing scrapbook-style TEENAGE conveys the transition in how the world perceived this emerging in-between stage..." - VARIETY, Peter Debruge

"Passing before the screen like a dream, enhanced by the ambient swirl of Bradford Cox's original soundtrack, the film stitches together an astonding collection of archival materials, supplemented by period reenactments... " - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Steve Dollar


2013 / USA / Colour / English / 1.78 widescreen anamorphic presentation / Dolby 5.1 Surround / 78 minutes


Director: Matt Wolf


Official Selection - HOT DOCS 2014


  • Feature-length audio commentary with director Matt Wolf and producer Kyle Martin.
  • Dreaming Documentary: Making TEENAGE - Featurette with director Matt Wolf, writer Jon Savage, and executive producer Jason Schwartzman
  • On Set with the Bright Young People - A behind the scenes look at filming a recreation
  • More archival film footage: Pillow Fight by Thomas Edison (1897), Chicago Swing Jamboree Newsreel (1938), Boy Scouts in Michigan (1920), NYA in Wartime (1941)
  • Theatrical trailer