Imagine not ever venturing outdoors, and the only way you ever got a taste of the “real world” is through movies? This is the case for six brothers and one sister raised by strict Hare Krishna parents. This family raised on films rather than the real world is the subject of a documentary, The Wolfpack by Crystal Moselle, which recently won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
The Angulo children, the eldest a girl, Visnu (who is handicapped), followed by six boys — Bhagavan, 23, twins Govinda and Narayana, 22, Mukunda, 20, Krisna, 18, Jagadesh, 17 — lived confined to a very small apartment in New York’s lower East Side. Their mother, Susanne, homeschooled the children, but it was at the instruction of her husband and the children’s father, Oscar, that kept the children confined and raised on films rather than the real world around them. Oscar, a Peruvian immigrant, was also a controlling alcoholic who suffers from severe paranoia. While Oscar struggled to isolate his family in order to protect them from outside influences, he also, paradoxically, allowed his family to feast on films for entertainment. And it seems any film was preferable to having his family integrate with the world around them.
The family raised on films delved into such movies as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and The Dark Knight. Estimates show at least 2,000 movies in their collection, and everything from comedies, romances, and horror make the list. An interesting choice for a man who wanted to keep his family sheltered from outside influences.
It is poetic that this family raised on films got discovered by a documentary maker, Crystal Moselle, and had their lives made into a film. The film premiered at Sundance but has just returned to the Angulos’ hometown for its U.S. premiere. While walking the red carpet for The Wolfpack (named because Moselle first saw the six brothers, long haired and travelling together like a wolf pack would), Moselle explained her motivation behind The Wolfpack.
“I met these boys about three blocks from this very theater. My instincts took over and I ran after them. They were all in black and their hair was long and it was just a beautiful sight. It’s just such an amazing experience to now be like, ‘Oh, our movie is playing at the theater that we walked by every day.’ I’m a Lower East Side girl, and I moved to Brooklyn just a few years ago. It feels like home and it feels perfect.”
While the Angulo family were mostly confined indoors, the siblings eventually started breaking away from their father’s stranglehold, and that is how Moselle chanced upon them. As well as the release of The Wolfpack at selected theaters, ABC also recently interviewed the family raised on films as part of their 20/20 program.
You can watch more on the Angulo family by tuning into ABC’s 20/20 program on Friday June 19 at 10 p.m. EST. Alternatively, you can watch the documentary based on their lives, The Wolfpack, in selected theaters from June 12.
Are you planning to see The Wolfpack, the story about a family raised on films? Let us know by commenting below!
[Image credit: Getty Images / Larry Busacca]