Nearly five months after winning the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, “The Wolfpack” returned to New York City on Tuesday night for its hometown premiere at the Landmark Sunshine Theater. With a handful of celebrity guests in attendance, including Spike Jonze, Bennett Miller, John Cameron Mitchell, Olivia Wilde and rocker Marky Ramone, the event marked a definitive full-cricle moment for director Crystal Moselle and the eponymous Angulo brothers.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Moselle explained on the red carpet of the movie finally premiering in New York City. “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.”
Being a movie that explores New York from a unique perspective, the chance to officially screen the movie in the neighborhood where they grew up weighed heavily on all of the brothers. “This is where we grew up, and this is something we dreamed about. It’s surreal,” noted Govinda Angulo.
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“It’s a dream. It’s an absolute dream,” added Mukunda with a spontaneous level of excitement. “We were raised on movies and we’ve seen New York movies. To actually have a movie premiere in our hometown, and in a theater that we first were hanging out in and checking it all out in… well this is just fascinating and extremely exciting.”
An odd and deeply intriguing documentary, “The Wolfpack” is the story of the six Angulo brothers, who spent their entire lives locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Nicknamed “The Wolfpack,” they were homeschooled by their mother and made no acquaintances outside of their family. All they knew of the outside world was learned from the films they watched and recreated obsessively, using elaborate homemade props and costumes to bring them to life in the halls of their apartment.
“It’s definitely about family and how precious family is and how tender those bonds are,” explained VICE Films’ Eddy Moretti, whose company came onboard as a marketing partner with the documentary’s distributor, Magnolia Pictures. “But it’s also about the power of film and popular culture to bring people together. It has a vote of confidence in popular culture to stimulate creativity, and it shows how powerful creativity can be at bringing people together in tricky situations.”
Documenting the family’s troubling upbringing on film and screening it for audiences would seem like a nerve-wracking moment to some, but for Moselle and the brothers it’s simply what they’ve been waiting for ever since they first met on the streets of New York five years ago. “We are so excited to finally push it out there,” said Moselle with relief. “I think it’s going to get a great response and we feel really comfortable with it.”
The best and most celebratory part of it all: The boys are capitalizing on the documentary’s success by beginning a new production company called Wolfpack Pictures. “I’m an aspiring director and Govinda is an aspiring cinematographer,” Mukunda explained. “We’re making film content together and it’s a process that’s starting right now.”
“Any projects we make in the future and any collaborations we have in the future will get filtered through this company. Different movies brought us to different worlds. Different directors showed us how they saw the world. It was kind of like growing up and watching all of these opinions, and we hope to do that in every single movie.”
As for the films and stars the brothers want to work with in the future: Govinda wasted no time in listing “feature films, horror films, action films, documentary films…and Robert De Niro!” Look for collaborations between Wolfpack Pictures and media outlets such as VICE and The New York Times in the coming weeks.
“The Wolfpack” hits select theaters this Friday.