Director: Martin Bell

Institute History

  • 1985 Sundance Film Festival


Streetwise is a look at the mean streets of our urban area and the children who are forced through circumstance or choice to find a way to live on them. This is the ultimate examination of the plight of runaways in America told through a handful of main characters in an unsentimental but poignant manner.

Inspired by a Life magazine article on runaways working and living in the streets, this richly textured documentary enters the world of the runaway in a provocative and profound way. The kids tell their own stories and we can witness their lives without the distractions of narration or the simplification of the issue by the producers. It is a touching and gritty tale, so much so that it challenges one’s own perceptions about myth and reality. Theses are streetwise kids, well versed in the vernacular of the streets. We’re perplexed by their situations and impassioned by their predicament. What could have been done to salvage their lives? At what point was their fate sealed? Is there anything that can be done now to retrieve them from the streets? Is that what they really want or do they just not know anything different?

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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