Five years ago on a regular day in Manhattan, filmmaker Crystal Moselle noticed an unusual-looking group walking along First Avenue. The six Ray Ban-wearing, long-haired brothers, then aged 11 to 18, looked like the Reservoir Dogs.
Moselle was compelled to strike up a conversation, and soon discovered that their chance encounter was one of the brothers’ only outings in their entire lives. She learned that the Angulos had spent the last 14 years largely confined to their Lower East Side apartment, in the projects, and that they largely understood the outside world exclusively through watching movies.
As a cinephile herself, Moselle and her new friends began sharing their love of cinema. “I was teaching them about Hitchcock and behind-the-scenes of Scorsese films, and they showed me things like Heart of Darkness—I had never seen that,” she says. Moselle started filming their experiences together and what resulted is her first feature-length film,The Wolfpack, this year’s winner for best American documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. It was quickly picked up by VICE and Magnolia Pictures for distribution. On Friday, for one showing only, Carbon Arc Cinema is bringing this incredible story to Halifax.
“In the beginning, I didn’t know what the story was,” says Moselle. “I just thought they were kids that wanted to learn film, and I was a filmmaker. So I was hanging out with them and showing them cameras, and I knew I wanted to do a project with them, but it was a very organic process. It was positive, it was a friendship.”
Moselle was fascinated by the Angulo boys. “They were doing re-enactments of films they loved, like exercises they would do to create their own world and to pass the time. I admired that. I started filming a behind-the-scenes of their first short film, but I didn’t really know where it was going. I had to be very open,” she continues. “But I really admired their drive and focus, and how they’re so articulate. They’re interesting, they’re not jaded, I loved that. And we were able to teach each other filmmaking, and that was exciting for us.”
Underneath these positive experiences is the reality that the boys and their sister were virtually held captive by a strict father. After meeting Moselle, the boys began experiencing the real world more and more. They’ve become celebrities to a degree, and with the film they’ve taken trips to LA, Zurich and South America.
“They are absolutely enjoying this life,” says Moselle. “It’s been quite a journey for everybody. People can connect on so many different levels—their love of cinema, how it relates to their own family or relationship to their fathers and mothers. It’s about letting go of fear and moving on.” From the film’s success, Moselle says she has learned so much about storytelling. She is now working on new scripts and researching her future documentaries. But the experience of meeting the Angulo brothers was life-changing for all of them.
“It was unbelievable,” says Moselle. The movie “feels like you’re walking into a different dimension.”