Winning the Sundance Grand Jury Best Documentary Prize for 2015 “The Wolfpack” is an extraordinary coming of age story that highlights the powerful influence of film. As children, the Angulos brothers were confined to their parents’ apartment in the Lower East Side of New York under the rule of their strict Peruvian father who disapproved of outside influence on his family. Sheltered from society, the boys learned about life from their father’s collection of films.
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Trying to recreate the same emotions they were experiencing on screen, the brothers began preforming scenes from their favourite films such as Lord of the Rings, Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight.
Mukunda, the third oldest brother, copied the actor’s dialogue from the films as he replayed it frame by frame then, with help from his brothers, they would create elaborate home-made props and costumes. Mukunda emphasises in the film, whilst dressed in a cardboard and yoga-mat Batman suit, that to some people it may seem strange but to him and his brothers this was their nirvana.
At 15, Mukunda was the first to defy his father’s orders and slip out of their apartment alone whilst their father was out shopping for groceries. He had donned a paper mache Michael Meyers Halloween mask so that if he did run into his father, he wouldn’t be recognised. He was captivated by the hustle and bustle of the world around him, walking in and out of shops; however concerned citizens called the police as they were frightened of his appearance.
Mukunda was hospitalized for a week, separated from his family, where he spent his time understanding and reflecting upon the impact his father’s beliefs had had on his childhood. Once returned home, he disowned his father and ventured out constantly with his brothers to experience the world for themselves.
Director Crystal Moselle encountered the boys on one of these outings and they quickly became friends, the curiosity of her documentary background overwhelming them. Over the following few months, Moselle captured the boys in their apartment and interviewed them about their childhood, their parents and their views of the outside world. She also follows them as they experience a trip to the beach and go to the cinema for the first time ever.
“The Wolfpack” is an extraordinary film about the power of film – well-deserving of its Sundance Grand Jury prize.