play Teenage trailer

“Adolescence is a new birth.”

—G. Stanley Hall, 1904

Portrait of Warren Wall
Portrait of Tommie Scheel
Portrait of Melita Maschmann
Portrait of Brenda Dean Paul

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.”

“Those who get the youth get the future.”

“Our world is speedy, and they’re old.”


Portrait of Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf (Director/Writer) is an award-winning filmmaker in New York whose feature documentaries include Wild Combination, about the avant-garde cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell and Teenage, about the birth of youth culture. His latest film Recorder is about Marion Stokes, an activist who recorded television 24 hours a day for 30 years. Matt’s short films include I Remember, about the artist and poet Joe Brainard, Time Magazine’s The Face of AIDS about a controversial Benetton advertisement, and Bayard & Me, about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. He is also the director of HBO’s It’s Me, Hilary and has made online series for the New York Times and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a Guggenheim Fellow.

Portrait of Jon Savage

Jon Savage (Writer) is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He is the author of Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture 1875-1945, which was published and critically acclaimed in the UK, North America, and Germany in 2007. His film and television writing credits include the BAFTA winning BBC Arena documentary, THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY, and most recently JOY DIVISION, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, is distributed by the Weinstein Company and The Works, and was awarded the UK Film Council’s Best Documentary Award at the 2008 Griersons. After graduating from Cambridge he published a fanzine called London’s Outrage, and worked for SoundsMelody Maker, and The Face. His first book, The Kinks: The Official Biography was followed by England’s Dreaming, the award-winning history of the Sex Pistols, punk, and Britain in the late seventies. It was the basis for the BBC Arena documentary Punk and Pistols and is widely considered the definitive record of punk.

  • A Cinereach Production
  • A Film by Matt Wolf
  • Written by Jon Savage
  • Based on the book Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1845–1945 by Jon Savage
  • Original Music by Bradford Cox
  • Music supervision IAMSOUND
  • Featuring the voices of Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw,
    Julia Hummer, Jessie Usher
  • Also featured Brenda Dean Paul - Leah Hennessey
    Melita Maschmann - Ivy Blackshire
    Melita Maschmann (Voice) - Daniela Leder
    Tommie Scheel - Ben Rosenfield
    Warren Wall - Malik Peters
  • Produced by Ben Howe & Kyle Martin
  • Executive Producers Philipp Engelhorn & Michael Raisler
  • Executive Producer Jason Schwartzman
  • Co-Producers Andrew Goldman & Jacqui Edenbrow
  • Editor Joe Beshenkovsky
  • Director of Photography Nick Bentgen
  • Production Designer Inbal Weinberg
  • Costume Designer Tere Duncan
  • Lead Archival Researcher Rosemary Rotondi

“This is a story that ends with a beginning.”


  • Supported by
  • Jerome Foundation
  • Puma Creative Catalyst Award in partnership with Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation
  • The TFI Documentary Fund

  • Additional Support from
  • Center for Independent Documentary
  • CPH: Forum
  • Guggenheim Foundation
  • IDFA Forum
  • IFP Project Forum
  • LEF Foundation
  • MacDowell Colony
  • Sheffield MeetMarket