There are eight million stories in the naked city, as the saying goes, but even by lofty NYC standards the tale told in the documentary “The Wolfpack” astounds.
It’s about six brothers who grew up on the Lower East Side as virtual shut-ins, rarely venturing outside because of their overprotective parents, escaping the confines only through watching movies and making intricate re-creations of them.
Documentarian Crystal Moselle first encountered the Angulo brothers walking down First Avenue in 2010, on one of their rare ventures outside.
“One kid ran past me, with this long hair and sunglasses on,” Moselle recounts. “He just kind of caught my eye. I’m always doing little projects, and it was like, ‘Oh he’s interesting.’ And then another one passed by me, and another one and another one and another one. They had this ‘Reservoir Dogs’ type of walk as they were talking through traffic and I ran after them. I can’t completely explain why.”
A conversation ensued and one of the older brothers (they are now in their teens and early 20s) expressed their interest in filmmaking.
Thus was born a five-year collaboration that saw the brothers grow to trust Moselle and invite her into their unique world, resulting in a documentary hitting theaters Friday that molds the strangeness of their situation with the magic of the cinematic imagination as a conduit out of a difficult situation.
“It’s not the easiest thing,” Moselle says of making such an intimate film. “It can be confusing for all parties. But ultimately, as long as every intention is at the same place — they wanted to tell their story and I wasn’t going to tell their story without their permission — it was going to be a collaboration. A really big part of that is they were picking up cameras and filming scenes themselves when I wasn’t around.”