This documentary is directed by Crystal Moselle. It won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and is most likely unlike any story you’ve ever seen before.
Moselle ran into six young men (the Angulo brothers, nicknamed the Wolfpack), wearing dark suits and sunglasses, on a New York City street. She asked them about their story which is told in this film, mostly through the boy’s own words.
The director found out that the boys had rarely been allowed to leave their family’s four bedroom apartment in a public housing complex in New York’s Lower East Side. One of the boys tells her that sometimes they would be able to leave nine times a year, sometimes only once.
The boy’s parents (Oscar and Susanne) met in South America. Oscar, their abusive father, doesn’t work, and distrusts the outside world. The boys were taught by Oscar to avoid others and stay indoors. They are homeschooled (it appears effectively), by Susanne, who talks about the bad socialization in schools. The father, a devotee of Hare Krishna, gave all of the children Sanskrit names, and they all have grown their hair very long.
Having their apartment as their entire world, the boys spend their time watching popular films (they have a collection of some 5,000 films), such as Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight. They then creatively recreate the films in their apartment. We see some footage of that, along with some film from their childhood. Later in the film we see the boys, now between 11 and 18 years old, start to venture out into the real world and attending their first film in a theatre.
In many ways this was a heartbreaking film to watch. It’s hard to imagine these children living almost their entire lives in their New York City apartment. One wonders why their mother allowed this to happen. Although five of the boys are no longer on speaking terms with their father, they seem to have a close bond with each other. We can recommend this film if you want to see young men triumph over adversity with their creative imaginations.
The film is rated “R” for adult language.