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One of the most astonishing and engaging cinematic works of the past decade, CHILDREN UNDERGROUND is a profoundly intimate and heart-wrenching drama about homeless children struggling for survival on the streets and in the subways of Bucharest, Romania. Written by
Having just seen the DVD of Children Underground I must say strongly that this film should be seen by everyone in the postmodern first world. I saw these things for myself in Romania during December of 2000. The apathy on the streets of
Bucharest was deep and dark. My friends there kept shrugging their shoulders
saying; "What can you do?" A documentary on the thousands of dogs on the streets would be a riveting nightmare in itself. While I was there they held an election. The choice of presidential candidates was reduced to a hard-line old school communist and a new school fascist. The Communist won. People shrugged. The train stations and subway entrances were indeed hives for feral children. I'm deeply grateful to Edet Belzberg for having the courage to descend into this manmade hell to bring these images back. It is my hope that the Romanians themselves find some of that same courage. I was moved that even at this stage of hell several of the kids held on to at least some idea of God. That could be seen by the cynically ironic of the West as the superstition of the hopeless, but perhaps it is also evidence that these children are not hopeless. To blame these problems on the lack of abortions or contraceptives is naïve and simplistic. Listen to the voices of the parents in this film. It is the apathy, the failure of courage and the utter selfishness reinforced by too many years of soul crushing communist dictatorship. We, ourselves, have no reason to gloat. Apart from having a surfeit of material possessions would we fare any better if the props were kicked from beneath us? Perhaps perhaps not. This film, along with Lilja 4-Ever, is a warning sign of something growing in this world. Robert L. Kaplan termed it The Coming Anarchy. It will spread. Meanwhile how will you respond to these things? With compassion or with apathy?
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