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Release Date: June 12, 2015 (Limited)
Director: Crystal Moselle
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 80 min.

If I told you that there was a premise for a movie about seven children who were locked in a Lower East Side apartment for their whole lives who then finally decide to break out and see the world, you might think that it sounds like a lovely piece of fiction. But the kicker about Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack is that it is a factual documentary that is truly stranger than fiction.

For nearly five years, Moselle has been given an astounding amount of access to this unique family – which, up until now, has been completely shut off from the world, despite being in one of the most populous cities on Earth.

The Angulo family is comprised of six brothers and one sister living in a small New York City apartment along with their caring mother and their abusive father, who keeps them trapped in their home and locked away from society. They’re home schooled and are only let out of the apartment a few times a year if they’re lucky. To pass the time, they watch movies, and the brothers meticulously recreate them nearly shot for shot.

These amazingly well crafted recreations are the first indication that there’s something special about these boys and that their creative drive and intelligence reach far beyond the walls of their confines. Movies are their connection to the world; they have no Internet, no friends except each other, and they live in constant fear and resentment of their domineering father. Film is their escape – the medium that keeps them sane – and ultimately, the trigger that sets them free.

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One of the more surprising elements of the film is how seemingly well-adjusted the brothers are. They are all fully aware that their upbringing was anything but normal but often act the complete opposite of how one might think. Despite being so closed off from the world and not attending traditional school, they speak very articulately, and for the most part, they appear to have an incredibly positive outlook on life. One of the most joyous parts of the film is seeing them explore the outside world and truly appreciate its vibrancy.

The Wolfpack is a film that was born out of a chance encounter between the director and her subjects, and the result is one of the most compelling, entertaining and endearing documentaries I’ve seen this year. It’s an absolutely crazy, sad, though ultimately uplifting story that reminds us to embrace the world we live in and reaffirms the positive impact cinema can have on us all. I sincerely hope this film affords the Angulo brothers all the opportunities they truly deserve.

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