Streetwise (1984)

Streetwise (1984)

A clear-eyed and tender documentary of youth living in the streets of eighties Seattle

8.6

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary
1984
MARTIN BELL
Dewayne Pomeroy, Lulu Couch, Roberta Joseph Hayes
91 min

What it's about

This documentary about teenagers living on the streets in Seattle began as a magazine article. The film follows nine teenagers who discuss how they live by panhandling, prostitution, and petty theft.

The take

Martin Bell documents the lives of youth living in the streets of Seattle in the early eighties with profound empathy. It's a type of filmmaking that doesn’t judge or condescend, but seeks to capture the humanity of its subjects. The result is a film bursting with life and laughter, and although tragedy lurks around every corner it isn’t over-sentimentalized or exploited, taking a backseat to the compassionate depiction of everyday moments. 

The audience is left to its own devices to pull together the extent to which these youth have been failed by a broken safety-net and the expired promise of an American dream. These ideas rise to the surface naturally and serve as a testament to the power of the documentary form when it’s loosened from the grip of mawkish narrators and sugary moralizing.

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