The Wolfpack

wolfpack

The Wolfpack is a 2015 American documentary film about a family who homeschooled and raised their seven children in the confinement of their apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City. The film, directed by Crystal Moselle, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

Locked away for fourteen years, the Angulo family’s seven children—six brothers named Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (Glenn), and Jagadesh (Eddie), and their sister Visnu—learned about the world through watching films. They also re-enact scenes from their favorite movies.  Their father, Oscar, had the only door key and prohibited the kids and their mother from leaving the apartment except for a few strictly-monitored trips on the ‘nefarious’ streets.

Everything changed for them when 15-year-old Mukunda decided to walk around the neighborhood in 2010, against their father’s instruction to remain inside. All the brothers then decided to begin exploring Manhattan and the world outside. In 2010, Crystal Moselle, then a graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, chanced upon a group of six peculiar-looking siblings while walking down First Avenue in Manhattan. The siblings, who were then between 11 and 18 years old, wore black Ray-Ban sunglasses reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs and had waist-long hair. Crystal became friends with them and later found out that the siblings had been confined to their Manhattan apartment for 14 years; that they had learned about the world by watching movies; and that most, if not all, social situations were new to them. They bonded quickly with Crystal because of their shared love of films.

Jordan Hoffman of ‘The Guardian’ gave the film a five-star review and compared it to ‘Grey Gardens’ (a 1975 documentary about two reclusive, formerly upper class women, living in a derelict mansion in the Hamptons) by saying that ‘Not since ‘Grey Gardens’ has a film invited us into such a strange, barely-functioning home and allowed us to gawk without reservation.’ However, writer Paul Byrne questioned the film’s ethics. While conceding that it is ‘a confronting and confounding true story,’ he argued that ‘Some of the boys were barely teenagers when Moselle started to film, too young to give consent. The sister is mentally handicapped, so incapable of consent. The father might be mentally ill – another problem of consent…The question then becomes how much [Moselle’s] presence changes what we see.’

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