Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Pack Mentality

Those five men look like movie stars-don't they?
That's because they are. And it happened in the most incredible way. But that's only part of the story.

These brothers-6 in total (and 1 sister)-grew up in in a 16th floor Manhattan public housing apartment which served for 14 years as a prison for the family. Confined to the cramped apartment under their bizarre father's rule, the family of nine spent most of their lives with no contact with the outside world. The father forbade them to ever leave the apartment and held the only key to the front door. The children were home schooled by their mother, and taught never to communicate with strangers. Their only contact with real world were on necessary, supervised appointments or controlled outings to New York tourist destinations. The children were told to never cut their hair and that the outside world had "bad people in it".

The one privilege the boys father did allow was movies. And they indulged in many movies as their personal form of escape from the hell that they knew as their life. Middle brother Mukunda, was the prop master and he would make items from their favorite movies from things he had lying about the house. The boys would reenact scenes from the movies as a way to feel normal and feel free. Then in January 2010, Mukunda, then 15, decided he needed to escape and see life outside his prison walls.

Little did Mukunda know that that escape-he wore a mask he had made to resemble Mike Meyers from the Halloween movies so that he would not be recognized outside by his father-would change all of their lives for ever. Once outside, Mukunda didn't know his address so he kept the apartment building in his site as he visited a bank and a supermarket. People were afraid so he was soon stopped by police. When questioned Makunda says,

“They started asking, ‘Do you live here? Where are you from?’ And I was always taught to never interact with any people, so I didn’t say anything, you know. I didn’t give them any information on me,” Mukunda recalled.

He was placed on a psychiatric hold and sent to Bellevue Hospital for a week stay, which he loved. It was his first interaction with other people outside his family. When he returned home, his father was no longer in control. The boys then started going out together and on a chance meeting they met film maker Crystal Moselle, who they bonded with over their love of movies. Moselle ended up filming the boys for 5 years and the result is her documentary file "The Wolfpack", in theaters now. The film has bee critically acclaimed and won a Grand Jury prize at  this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Purely coincidence that one of the first people the boys meet is a film maker? I think not. These boys have a whole lot of catching up to do and they are doing it in grand style. Hollywood has come knocking and they ironically were, "ready for their closeup". But at an incredible price.

No comments: