Streetwise (1984) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
37 Reviews
Sort by:
Questions of 'Streetwise' authenticity answered.
lutherdesmond21 November 2004
'STREETWISE' the documentary film

Director & Cameraman: Martin Bell

Sound Recordist: Luther Keith Desmond

The rest of the credits are on the 'Streetwise' web site.

Recently, someone mentioned '…Didn't you have summat to do with Streetwise?….' This prompted me to look through the Streetwise website for the first time. I was more than a trifle surprised to find, there's a whole raft of you out there believe this remarkable film was 'scripted.' As the only soundman on the streets of Seattle during the filming of Streetwise, had there been a script, it would have been necessary for me to have a copy. There was no script - period.

The relationship between Dewayne and his father was later developed into a story by Peter Silverman. Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark and Peter Silverman wrote a screenplay, which became the 1992 movie 'American Heart' directed by Martin Bell.

Cheryl McCall, who is down as the writer on the website, is most certainly a writer, and also the credited producer of Streetwise. The entire film was inspired by an article in Life magazine (1983) entitled 'Streets of the Lost'- text by Cheryl McCall, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark. All of the action on the street and all of the dialogue in the film is that of the kids. How do I know? Well I recorded the stuff. No-one could write dialogue that good.

Some have thought 'Streetwise' was too beautifully filmed to be a documentary. For the UK television audience, the quality of the images in Streetwise was standard documentary TV in the early 80's. I only mention this, as the crew shooting 'Streetwise' were Limey's. Martin and I had worked together for fifteen years - cutting our teeth on documentaries shot for UK television.

The Limey factor proved to be a stumbling block at the outset. The kids on Pike Street were confused by the accents of two bearded characters, unable to speak American properly, and it took us two to three weeks to convince them we were not the CIA. In two and a half months we shot close on 50 hours of film. This is normal for obtaining enough content to give the editor a chance of constructing a truthful account.

Some of you on the web indicate disbelief as to how some sequences were gathered, indicating a possibility of manipulating the contributors.

The only manipulation of any contributor was administered by myself, in placing radio microphones on the characters involved. It could also be argued that it was manipulation to put a radio microphone on Tiny in her prison cell, prior to filming the visit by Rat. Likewise, with Dewayne's father, also in jail. If this was manipulation, I stand guilty as charged. This was the only way I could gather dialogue from contributors.

Many have expressed dismay or doubt, about the Coke can on the coffin of Dewayne. This was not orchestrated by the crew, simply a forgetful gesture by a father, out of jail for the day for the funeral, distraught at his failure towards his son. What you do not see in this scene is Dewayne's father giving his son a drink of coke from that can.

Some of you may be unaware of the dedication and involvement of the film editor and the editing crew. The skill, sensitivity and integrity of editor Nancy Baker and her sharp shooter assistant, Jonathan Oppenheim is overwhelming. These people make my stuff 'sound' good, and they gave us a memorable film.

I cannot offer you hopeful news on most of the street kids in Seattle, I only wish I could.

The last I heard was that Tiny (Erin) had now given birth to eight children – and is about to give birth to her ninth.

Lulu was killed by street kids, without provocation. Over 300 attended her funeral.

Shadow is now working in construction in Seattle.

Munchkin is a chef in a Seattle restaurant.

Patti died of AIDS.

Kim married a Navy Seal and has a child.

Rat, could be almost anywhere.

The rest, Dawn, Shellie, Lillie, I know nothing of.

Someone asked, who sang 'Teddy Bears picnic?' – this was not Tom Waits, but a street musician in Seattle known as 'Baby Gramps' – wasn't he good?

Luther Keith Desmond Sound Recordist London. U.K. November 2004
82 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
peu_de_noir_ange25 December 2002
I have lived in Seattle all my life, I watched and knew people like the kids in Streetwise. Many people would like to think that Streetwise was a "scripted" movie and that these kids "played up" their lives for the cameras. Scary as it might seem they did not. This was life on the streets of Seattle when I was 12-13. I know, I was a part of it.

Children, barely old enough to take care of themselves ran amok on the streets, had drug habits and prostituted themselves for some food money. They had parents that beat them or were in jail or molested them and that life on the streets was preferred to life at home.

I appreciate that this movie was so truthful and showed what life is really like out on the streets when you open your eyes.

I've watched this movie several times and I am happy that I got off the streets and survived. But the movie does make me wonder if I was the only one. Watch this movie and open your eyes.
26 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The city of the lost children. (spoilers)
Pepper Anne24 March 2006
Streetwise is a documentary that follows several runaway youth in the 1980s living on the streets of Seattle. Most are no older than 16, but already have made careers for themselves as pimps and prostitutes, thieves and muggers, panhandlers and dumpster divers, and doing what they can to survive.

In a 2006 edition of the New Yorker, a critic suggested that these kids are kind of led by a sense of street freedom, but as another viewer commented, it is likely that a lot of these people, even Rat, were probably miserable, despite the best attempts to hide it or convince themselves otherwise (This was made clear by Rat's opening remark about the things he hated about flying--"coming back to the f***in' earth.") Clearly, Dewayne was, as he committed suicide at the age of 16. The sad thing is that these were kids of children themselves. Not in the sense that they were born to teenagers (which may actually be the case), but that many of their parents had not yet matured beyond their own selfishness to care for these kids as they needed to be (Tiny's mother rationalized her daughter's prostitution as a "phase"). Some of the young girls, 14 and hooking, tell us about their abusive fathers and stepfathers that, despite miserable marriages, their mothers still stuck by them irregardless of the negative consequences to their own children. Rat tells about this too, where he was tired of being between his helpless, divorced parents feuding. Or just parents who seemed capable of having kids, but not raising them. And since no one cared for them as children (most of them, I'm not sure what the background was on the young black man who was pimping the girls, the one who's mother and probably grandmother later show up and ask him to come home), they took the streets and became, as Tiny's mother says, 14 going on 21. They were the city of the lost children.

Some might criticize this movie as being unrealistic, and at least the things coming from Dewayne's dad when talking to his son sounds like something from a film, although the Sound Recordist for the film has assured in his own comments that this is not the case. That there was no script. It makes the events all the more heartbreaking. If the purpose of the film was to raise awareness of the life of young runaways, it makes it point and drives it home hard. It also drives home hard that the policies of Regeanomics (joked by Dewayne later in the film) were hurting those lowest on the income scales (and consequently, moving many into the street). And it makes me wonder what the numbers of runaways and street kids are these days. Washington, DC (where I live now) has a large homeless population relative to the size of the district, but I never see any young panhandlers or prostitutes and wonder, is the situation still the same? Are the institutions working more to get kids off the streets? What has become of the Streetwise now?
13 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Unforgettable, even after 15 years
Hinda15 February 1999
Do the subjects of this film know that most everyone who viewed it still thinks about them and wonders what happened to them? Does Martin Bell know this? How the world would eat up a sequel...a follow-up on the people who can be located...
13 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
My opinion of streetwise- from Rat's wife
janelb127 August 2007
Hey, Jen! How funny to see you on here! Love Ya!

I personally love Streetwise. I've seen it a million times. My husband gets embarrassed whenever I show the movie, and hides in the other room.

I am Rat's wife. We live in California, where he originally came from. It's funny that no one knows where he is. Martin and Maryellen still keep in contact and send Christmas cards. Anyway, Rat is alive and doing well. It just goes to show that eating garbage won't kill a person. It might just make them stronger.

18 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Close to home
jjessey18 May 2002
This documentary hits very close to home. I grew up with "Rat" after 1984, and our lives are still involved in some ways. I saw this movie as a teenager and it really makes you think about how things could be. Most kids can't wait to get out "on their own" and when you look at the way some roads can take you, you don't ever want to leave. When I look back at how "Rat" grew up and the lives of these other kids, I think to myself how easy it could have been me or kids that I know now. When you watch this movie, you will always remember that LIFE is such a short period of time and so many things can bring you down along the journey. But you have to keep in mind that the negative is always a learning experience, the question is...would you take the same journey again?
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
i was there
summers50029 February 2010
Its been twenty twenty six years since the streetwise film was made i was in a boys home at the time of filming i was asked to be in the film but i was unable to be there i knew rat and lulu Kim Dwayne tiny munchkin and Pattie hell i even dated Lillie for a while the days of the doughnut shop and the aftermath when Gunther got busted and yes even to this day the murder of lulu still makes me cry to some people out there these kids were ghosts to me they wers my friends and family who at times were the only family we had its sad to think so many of them are gone but never will be forgotten my name is T I am now 42 years old and live in Nashville tn im married with two kids and work in law enforcement i see kids today just where we all were downtown on first and pike just as scared and just as tough trying to survive in a world that is not that easy to survive in

yet i try to help them the best way i can hell somebody has to. to all those who was in the film i still think of you everyday and send love im even writing a book about the seattle street kids in those days if any of you are still around and remember me T please send word email me i would love to hear from you
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
most recent article I can find on Tiny and Mary Ellen Mark
LoLo19 February 2006
I have followed (or tried to follow) Tiny through the years, she is up to 9 children now and is moving to North Carolina with her husband. He is the father of her last 4 kids. Her oldest son Daylon lives alone and is 19, her 2 oldest daughters live with a relative. Here is the link to

type in Mary Ellen Mark, the article is called: Focused on a life: Photographer uses camera as force for change

I heard that Rat is living on a farm or ranch, , some people say he died, does anyone have any current info?

Does anyone have a picture of Roberta, the victim of the Green River killer? I cannot remember her face.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
this movie will stay with you forever
tonlo10 July 2000
I could never forget the kids in the movie, I have done some searching and found out info on some of the kids, pics too and anyone interested can email and I will fill you in. Some think it was scripted, either way it is a touching movie and a harsh look at what life on the street for anyone let alone kids is like.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This movie was not scripted...
finallyhomerescue15 September 2012
If any one watched the movie & actually understood it they might understand the absurdity of that statement. When these weird people showed up & started following us around most just wanted to jump them & take their cameras & other stuff but none of us knew anyone who would buy something like that. We were on the streets for a reason & most of us had not had very good luck with adults so it was not really in our best interest to deal with them, but these folks were smart, somehow they got in good with Lulu one day Lulu told us hands off the old people, don't mess with them. So that was the way it was, after them being around for a while some of us kind of talked to them, most of us just wanted them to go away, they were strange, they didn't want sex, they weren't trying to hit or hurt us & most of us just got used to them. A lot of the others that were in the movie were trying to stay alive in some small way, the green river killer was working the crowd & that movie might be the only proof we were ever even here. Some of the kids were just trying to prove that they were making it & doing fine without their parents. D's dad was a dipstick & that is always how he talked to him. Somewhere it says that Lulu's last words were to tell these people that she was dead, that is BS, she was NOT attacked by other streetkids for no reason, she was defending her girlfriend from a drunk insane man, that is the way it was, that is the way she was. None of us got paid for this, as a matter of fact I don't even think any of us could con those folks into buying us a burger & fries at the Unique. For all of the armchair critics here who didn't have to live like this, or wasn't there, you might want to get out more. For any of those reading who may be still alive from there this is Breezy RIP Patti, Lulu, Dewaynne, John, & Bert...
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You'll Be Wiser
The_Core27 April 2000
Someone commented that certain portions of this movie are obviously scripted. Although that's likely the case, I can testify that having personally met director Martin Bell (on the filming of "American Heart") and seeing him interact with young people (at the time, I was friends with someone who had been around on while Streetwise was being filmed), the man has an *incredible* way with these kids. He has a way of gaining their trust, of almost becoming one of them. Thus, I suspect that much less of this film was "scripted" than would appear.

"Streetwise" is not a documentary, although it has a documentary feel. It's a movie, and thus absolute realism is not to be expected. However, his portrayal of the streets of Seattle is amazingly realistic. As I live in the area, I've frequented many of the places portrayed in the film, and just about every scene is recognizable. It was all filmed on location, of course.

Things have changed on the Seattle streets since the early 1980's. Most of the youth (especially the prostitutes) have moved elsewhere, and the areas portrayed in the film are now inhabited mostly by older homeless people (over 18), many of them mentally ill and drug addicts. Crack cocaine abuse is rampant in many of these areas, especially downtown on James St. between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, just north of Pioneer Square. Times have changed, the "bad areas" have changed. First Avenue has been cleaned up, the Ferry runs have been cut way back due to budget cuts, and the younger kids mostly hang in other areas now (I don't know where). Perhaps on Capitol Hill (Broadway) and in the University District.

I too wonder what happened to many of the kids in this film. We will probably never find out. Martin Bell is a strange director, having filmed only two movies (8 years apart), both in Seattle. If you haven't seen "American Heart," I "heartily" recommend it. It's more of a "movie-movie" and has less of a documentary feel than Streetwise.

Because Streetwise is absolutely tops in its genre (pseudo-documentary), I rate it 10/10. If you can still find it (as far as I know it's out of print), see it -- you'll have no regrets.
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I was there!
DawnMarre6 October 2005
Hi! This movie is as close to home as ever! I was there while filming , knew these people personally, and WOW ! Very nice to see reality once in a while and I dearly miss the ones who went through this experience with me - youth has a way and that way we shall find !.....Long live these memories of my beloved Seattle friends ! I recommend this film to kids who want to try it on their own, to see their mistake ahead of time - in time..... "RAVEN"-Marre P.S. To Scott , Damien , & Kevin.....Hello....I made it out alive ! To all the girls I tried to help....luv you all ! To all those who know what I was real! Hope your lives are better for the fun we tried to have , and the pain we conquered while on the great quest for love !
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
heartbreaking, classic doc
rufasff3 October 2004
I find the comments here really interesting. I have always felt the filmmakers probably manipulated events (rather than outright scripting), and the kids

hammed it up in places for the cameras, still, that only added another fascinating element to this great film.

I have a book of photographs that went with the film. Alas, the tall lesbian girl was killed in a fight not long after the movie was finished. I also saw a "Nightline" show years later that followed up "Tiny" from the movie. Again, alas, She was a real mess.

Still, everything about this, staged in places or not, has a real ring of heartbreaking truth. Nine and a half out of ten.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of the best documentaries I've ever seen
JulietV26 October 1998
Absolutely one of my all time favorite movies. I think my brother and I have watched my copy 20-30 times.

It's fascinating to watch the teens (Tonya, Munchkin, Shadow, Tiny, etc.) as they live their lives dumpster diving, turning tricks and hustling on the streets of Seattle. You watch them in their day to day lives... dealing with living in abandoned motels, parents who honestly don't care that they're prostituting, and dealing with the violence of pimps and venerial disease.

Warning: You will wonder for the rest of your life what happened to these people and where they are today (if they're still alive after the harsh reality of life on the streets.)
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This is all of our stories!
spanky7779886016 May 2007
I was not in the movie but I was there I lived it. Me "Lil Kelly" and my sis Cheryl were joined together at the hip runnin hard. This was our life I didn't know that Roberta had even died until Gary Ridgeway was convicted and her name was read as one of his victims. I have a picture of Bert when we were down on first and pike I will always remember her that way young, blonde, beautiful and full of life. And Lulu how can anyone forget her! My first day downtown someone told me she was a girl not knowing any better I said quite loudly B.S. that's a dude! Well she overheard me ran up to me and lifted up her shirt and say's does this look like a man B**** Well she scared the hell outa me almost made me want to runaway back home!!LOL and Patty well she was a whole story in herself I remember her sitting on "her" garbage can down on Penny's Corner waiting for dates. And Dewayne my "lil man" he always wanted to run away with me and take care of me. Still to this day 20+ years later I cry what a sad tragedy! Why Baby why did you have to leave us like that??? There were people who loved you my "lil man" we did we all did we, us all of us the street kids your family. You have been greatly missed baby and thought of often. And Kim my sis who I wish Cheryl and I could find if anyone knows where she is please e-mail me! Kimmy you were in our lives for so many years the last time we saw you was about 13 years ago with Boxcar! Anyways anyone from block out there please write I always have wondered where everyone went or if there is anyone left. Lil Kelly
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Review and further information
Hoyer26 January 1999
He is 13 years old, but he's as much a man as any man will ever be. He is known as Rat. He's beggin' in the streets every day, but never sinks as low as turning tricks. He kinda loves this girl, who REALLY loves him, but it's kinda fun to play with her feelings. There are more important things in life than women. Friends. He has a friend, he must break out of jail, so he jumps the freight train out of Seattle and leaves her. With her stupid dog. But he's the boy, who'll never leave your mind, if you have seen Martin Bell's `Streetwise' from 1984. Not to mention Dwight Pomeroy, who committed suicide in the middle of the shootings. Not to mention the lesbian 15 years old commander of the streets. Not to mention Tom Waits' music. Is it really him or a street singer doing `The Teddy Bears' Picnic'? "Streetwise" is a Life Magazine production, based on a story in the magazine. The movie crew was British. It's one of the 10 best movies ever. And that is probably why, the TV stations don't know it!
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Reagan Era and the Runaways of the 80's
StoneFox19816 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie defines what is now called "Reagan-Era". While most of America got rich off of Wall Street, children in Seattle and throughout the country were running away from home to a place called Pike Street. Mary Ellen Mark and Mark Bell's Streetwise tells the tale of Tiny (Erin), Rat, Kim and others with realism because these children tell the story. It is amazing that this movie is not more known. I saw it for the first time on Cinemax about 11 years ago. I read now that Tiny is a mother of 5 and married. Right after the filming she got pregnant, while Kim moved away, Rat leaves Seattle before the film's end. I hope that Mary and Mark can do an updating story on these "little big people" from 20 years ago. It would be interesting to see how that turned out.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
great but sad movie
zygel27 March 2006
I just saw this at a film festival in NY with the director present to answer questions plus the follow up mini movie on tiny and her life now.. yes she has 9 kids not all from different fathers just 3 are. She is married and lives with her husband and children she still smokes like a chimney and made some bad decisions while pregnant(such as doing drugs and drinking). The director told us that most of the kids were killed or died from AIDS and that Roberta Hayes was a victim of the green river killer. He said that rat was driving a truck at night after doing a lot of time in prison. The saddest thing about this was those that did survive went on to live terrible lives and have children who unfortunately followed in their footsteps.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
They knew they were being filmed and played for the cameras...
pux-115 October 2006
...but all in all it is a fairly accurate portrayal of life on the Seattle streets at that time. Back then there were hundreds of kids living on the streets and the film mainly follows the most visible (The ones who were ALWAYS on first and pike). I was involved as a periphery player in that scene from 1978 until about 1984 when MDA and cocaine flooded the Seattle streets and destroyed what was left of the downtown runaway youth culture that flourished there. Most of my friends from that era are either dead, in prison or god only knows where. Several died of cocaine overdoses or aids. It was a sad, despairing chapter of my life but there were many, many good kids on those streets. It would be interesting to find out what happened to a lot of those people.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You might never want to watch "fiction" again.
selfparody31 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a depressing record of Seattle which reveals the innaccuracy of many views of street kids. It shows people like Kim, who try to stand up for other kids, despite the fact she barely has her own two feet to stand on. It shows pimps who call themselves "playboys," street performers, people beating each other like mad, and the sort of bonding that would somehow ring false in any work of fiction. I can only imagine how a commentary track on this would be one of the most fascinating listens I've ever had.

Highly recommended, though I'm sure some will view some scenes as having a lot of "kitsch."
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
survive how you can
Lee Eisenberg25 January 2018
Martin Bell's "Streetwise" looks at children living on the streets of Seattle. I understand that his wife Mary Ellen Mark's goal was to show that, even in the city ranked the most livable in the US, there was still homelessness. Are there any major cities in the US that don't have homelessness?*

I'd say that the best thing about the documentary is that it humanizes these children, reminding us that street people aren't something to be feared. Everyone should see the documentary.

I noticed that Baby Gramps did a song in the documentary. He performed once in my middle school.

*By contrast, my parents didn't see any homeless people when they went to Japan.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Wising Up
sol-17 April 2016
Some runaways, others abandoned or neglected by their parents, this Oscar nominated documentary tracks the experiences of a group of teenagers living on the streets of Seattle. The film has several powerful moments as it is revealed just how young some of the teens are and the scattered scenes featuring their parents certainly linger in the mind. Most memorably, one mother refers to what her daughter is going through on the streets as "just a phase" while a teenage boy visits his father in jail who does nothing but criticise him and lecture him on what not to do. Interesting as it is to have such a candid insight into the issue of homeless teens, several moments nevertheless feel rehearsed and the way the kids philosophically wax poetic about life never quite feels real. Some playing up for the camera is, of course, to be expected, but the film may have benefited from the filmmakers more judiciously editing these parts to ensure focus on the teens interacting naturally in their surrounds. On the same note, less interview style footage and more fly-on-the-wall (observational) footage may have rendered the film more intimate. If imperfect, 'Streetwise' has had an undeniable effect on many who have viewed it throughout the years, and if one engages with all of the teenagers, the experience is no doubt overwhelming. One's mileage with the film simply may vary. Whatever the case, the film both begins and concludes on pitch perfect notes with whistling over the opening credits in lieu of music and a Teddy Bears' Picnic ditty at the end, sung with perfect restraint.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This review focuses on the filmmakers contribution to making a quality film that beautifully captures the lives of young street kids in 1983 Seattle.
TheDoc Doctor3 April 2016
For the life of a runaway child in 1983 Seattle, it was tough. The kids ruggedly scrambled for their next meal and they did so with intellect. They were street smart. In the film Streetwise, filmmaker Martin Bell inspires to recreate the 1983 Life Magazine article "Street of the Lost," in documentary form. The original article beautifully grasps the struggle and vulnerability of street kids in Seattle but it also captures the childish nature these kids still embody. Bell tactfully captures moments of weakness in these lost children, but he also manages to catch them in moments of care-free living, just as any kid should experience. Bell's goal is not to just capture the reality these kids live in, but to develop an artistic portrait of their multi-faceted adolescence. Bell focuses most of his attention on two kids. Tiny is a complex character. Molested by her step-father at young age and her mother only seeing her current lack of abuse as reason to continue her relationship with the step-father, viewers mildly begin to understand why Tiny has turned to be a 14-year-old prostitute. Rat is a 17-year-old runaway whom spends his nights in an abandoned hotel, salvages for any food he can touch, and works daily shifts begging for money. Bell sees how these tough yet still vulnerable kids encapsulate the majority of kids taking their time to the streets. Though Bell captures the sad circumstances of the two, he dedicates time filming the young childish crushing the two have for each other. Bell sees the importance of sharing the two-dimensional street kid lifestyle; as grinding street dwelling scrappers and as adventurous, imaginative children. Martin Bell, hands over storytelling control to the children by using voice-overs from separately recorded interviews. The voice of the kids (often describing daily routines) are layered over footage of the kids taking on these daily routines. Viewers then receive a full understanding of the action. In one scene Rat describes dumpster diving. He tells the audience that people often question the safety of eating potentially decaying food. But as Rat explains, he always knows what food is safe because he scavenges one dumpster (or as he calls his "reg"). As the voice-over is played, Bell artistically delivers footage of Rat and his friend Jack rummaging through the dumpster, selecting their next meal. This technique of layering voice-over and footage makes it easy for the viewer to understand how these kids survive on a daily basis. Martin Bell, along with his ability to match visuals and sound, has an alluring ability to alter the distance between the audience's connection with the most intimate factors in these kids lives. Late in the film Rat goes to visit Tiny after she has been arrested. Rat has intentions of leaving the city but Tiny is trying to convince him to wait for her to get out of holding. It is an emotional scene where Bell shifts back and forth between close-ups of Tiny and Rat. Bell highlights the child-like romance these two have through close-ups of their facial expressions, amplifying the emotion. The scene then cuts to a long shot Rat looking outward to a passing boat. Rat wants to get out of Seattle. He looks back abruptly before the scene cuts again to him hopping on a passing train. Does this mean Rat is trapped in Seattle as he is too young to find the way out of the city? Could it be that the train only takes him through the city, not out of it? Martin Bell seemingly uses a variety of camera shots to give us a microscopic look into their emotions and also their environmental standing which keeps them in touch with these emotions. Streetwise is a brilliantly directed film that has plenty of nuances to make it a distinct documentary. It is not often that a filmmaker will let the subject do all the talking, but because the kids get so much attention we are constantly reminded of their conditions. With the help of some grade A filmmaking the stories become far too real, and so beautifully powerful.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
harrowing documentary
SnoopyStyle21 March 2015
It's a documentary of a bunch of street kids in Seattle. Rat is doing and selling drugs. He's friend with older Jack and living in an abandoned building. He'd take his gun to "roll a queer" and dumpster dive. Tiny is a 14 year old prostitute who won't consider abortions and lives in a dysfunctional family with her mom and stepfather. DeWayne is a panhanding and thieving hustler. He hangs himself in the end.

It's an amazing insightful documentary. It's praise worthy for director Martin Bell, his wife photographer Mary Ellen Mark and the Life Magazine article writer Cheryl McCall. They really got the trust from these kids and get right inside in their lives. It would be helpful if they include the kids' name in caption as well as their ages. Their ages are really shocking and it would have been more compelling to see it shown in bold block letters.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Follow-up coming!
Beth5 April 2014
I love this documentary. It affected me deeply.

I made FB group for fans of "Streewise", "Tiny Revisted" and also the up-coming "Streetwise follow-up documentary" is NOW open to the public .. Please go to FB & search "Streewise" to find out group... (we come up first) or contact me here and I can link you.

If you cannot find the group- look me up "Beth JaniTholeMyDolly"

We have updates, memorial threads for those lost, pictures of the "kids" now, update clips and more. Many of the "kids" from the doc are posting....come join us.

We are becoming a very big success.

I welcome all fans and people from Streetwise. =)
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews