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Streetwise

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Director: Martin Bell
1984 / 91min / DCP

Born from a Life magazine essay on the population of homeless youths who would congregate on downtown Seattle’s Pike St. (near the original Starbucks location), with accompanying photographs by Bell’s filmmaking partner, the photographer Mary Ellen Mark, this tough, unsentimental, deeply empathetic documentary, shot in palpably gritty 16mm, could only be the result of extraordinary understanding between filmmakers and subjects, the ignored and despised children left behind by propagandized ’80s prosperity and untouched by the light of Reagan’s “Morning in America.” A film whose cast of real-world characters, defiantly scraping out a living through panhandling and hustling, might just stay with you for a lifetime.

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