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How the documentary filmmaker found the subjects of her new movie
Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack is about the seven Angulo siblings, six brothers and one sister, who were raised in an apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, virtually removed from the world except for the movies their father brought home for them.
The boys’ re-enactments of key scenes from their favourite movies serve as an emotional hook for Moselle’s documentary, which is as much about the role of cinema in these kids’ lives as it is the story of how they got out into the world. I talked to Moselle when she brought her film to Hot Docs in April.
For readers who haven’t seen The Wolfpack yet, we should start at the beginning. How did you meet the Angulo brothers?
I was walking down 1st Avenue, and they kinda just like cruised by me down the street. Six interesting kids, and I ran after them and asked, “Where are you guys from?” They said “Delancey Street,” right down the street, and I was so intrigued by them. [Older brother] Govinda asked me, “What do you do for a living?” When I said, “I’m a filmmaker,” he said, “Oh, we’re interested in getting into the business of filmmaking.” And that’s how it all started. I started showing them cameras, and we became friends.
They were okay with you filming them in their home?
Yeah, they were very comfortable. They were totally fascinated by [the camera], and excited. At first, the idea was, “Oh, I’ll just film you guys doing some of your projects, your re-enactments.” It wasn’t ,”Oh, I’m going to peel back the layers of your lives.” That wasn’t the plan, even for me.
But eventually you understood that something else was going on with the kids’ father, Oscar, and you started to shape the movie around that.
Enat Sidi, my editor, she’s pretty brilliant she did Jesus Camp and Detropia. I learned so much from her in this process. It was really just about building these sequences out of emotion, building these scenes and putting them all together and just feeling what’s working. There wasn’t, like, a master plan we were constantly trying to figure out what the story was and how it was going to go. I didn’t want it to feel documental [sic]. You know, sometimes they’d be laying on the bed, and I’d be, like, on the side of the bed with a camera, just hanging out. It wasn’t too formal. It wouldn’t have worked that way.
The Angulos have been getting a lot of attention since The Wolfpack premiered at Sundance. How are they doing? Are you still in touch with them?
I still see them, like, every week. They’re doing great. Amazing. We’re all staying very connected with each other. Last night they all went to see GoodFellas together at a special Tribeca screening.
Moselle on what the brothers are up to now:
See our review of The Wolfpack here.
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