By Michael Brody
Crested Butte Film Festival
Jan. 11, 2016
There you are minding your own business - walking down First Avenue in New York City when you happen upon a sight straight out of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs... six look-alike boys, all dressed in Ray-Bans, black suits with white shirts, and skinny black ties. If you're filmmaker Crystal Moselle, you know a good story when you see it and you follow them. And befriend them and get invited into their home and make a documentary film that goes on to win the 2015 U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Such is the story of The Wolfpack, Crested Butte Film Festival's monthly film.
What isn't as well known is how truly bizarre this story really is. These six boys, aged between 11 and 18, happen to be brothers, sir name Angulo, and they just happen to be on one of the very few sojourns their slightly-paranoid father, Oscar allowed. Fourteen years before, Oscar decided, and subsequently brainwashed his rather timid wife Susanne into believing, that the "nefarious" streets of New York were no place for their seven kids, so he simply locked them in their sixteenth floor apartment, kept the one key to himself, and prohibited the kids and their mother from leaving the apartment except for a few strictly-monitored trips. Their entire lives were held within the confines of their apartment. No outside influence except for movies. The kids were home schooled by the mother while Oscar (often drunk and perhaps mentally ill) ruled over the domain. The children learned about the outside world by watching films and re-enacted scenes from their favorite movies (Batman, Reservoir Dogs) using homemade props made out of cereal boxes and costumes sewn by their mother.
Luckily for Moselle, and us the viewers, these scenes were recorded by their parents, who shot hundreds of hours of video of their kids performing. These segments comprise a majority of the film and offer a fascinating glimpse into their creativity and restrictive home life. According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Wolfpack offers "a unique look at modern fears and our fascination with film. It is a fascinating—and ultimately haunting—urban fable." Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian said, "it has been ages since a film invited us into such a strange, barely-functioning home and allowed us to gawk without reservation."
Everything changed for the Angulo household when the eldest son, 15-year-old Mukunda, slipped out of the apartment and decided to walk around the neighborhood, against their father's instruction. Coming home and telling tall tales of life in Manhattan, perhaps even more rich than the movies they had seen, the rest of the brothers soon followed.
The Wolfpack plays Thursday night, January 21st, 7pm at the Center for the Arts, 606 6th Street, Crested Butte. Advanced tickets are available online (http://crestedbuttearts.ticketleap.com/the-wolfpack/details) or night-of at the Box Office. The film also plays Saturday, January 23rd at the Gunnison Arts Center.