Streetwise : documentary of the life and lives of teenagers living on the street of Seattle.


Sk-StreetwiseWhile watching this, I felt my heartbeats go hard…
I felt some deep sad feelings, the emptiness, the hole in the heart, yet not understanding. As I was once a “run away” teenager before, this documentary brought me back so much memory about my past that’s hard to remember now. Most of my childhood, teenage memories are gone. I made it that way. I didn’t want to remember, didn’t want to go back, I never understood the whole thing – why some people are born with this family and some are born with that family, who decides, why do I have to be the unlucky one… I blamed my fate and cried most of my days. When I grew little older, I closed that part of my life down. Completely shut that down and left my home and country, hoping, that memory dies, that part of my life dies. It felt like, I was living my life with no shadow following me. Now, 20 years later, I finally and painfully realized I cannot understand/communicate with myself without opening my past, my wounds – still so raw after 20 years of time passed.
So for the first time, I choose to understand them. Even though our stories are pretty far apart, we still share this common ground – We had no love…
We never received love, so we just don’t know how to give love – don’t know how to love. My little heart was closed, all I had to do was to obey and that was the beginning of not knowing – who – I – am. I remember my senses were all shut off with fears, I didn’t have any room to feel wonder about things happening around me – this is the most painful part of me remembering my childhood, the loss of my ability to feel wonders of my life — Focussing on wrong things. We grew up that way, our parents grew up that way or worse, so we have to break the chain and let our children to be focussed on their life – not ours.

The film ended with a separate film of a follow-up interview with the main character “Tiny” 10 years later.
I was watching her, listening to her, thinking… life is about experience and learning.
Making friends with the voice inside and let the journey be all about that. Tiny’s story helped us to understand her and that understanding brings out our love and compassion hidden deep inside of us. ••• Directed by Martin Bell who was inspired by the article, “Street of the lost” in LIFE magazine,1983, photographed by his wife – Mary Ellen Mark, (who sadly passed away recently) written with reporter, Cheryl McCall. – Ko


“… The first night of shooting, Bell was able to earn the trust of the kids by doing something unexpected. They were filming in the Dismas Center, a facility that provides food, counseling, and recreation for kids. Suddenly Chrissie, a sixteen-year-old street kid, became very angry with Bell for filming her. To everyone’s amazement, Bell opened his camera magazine and gave her the exposed roll of film. Chrissie stormed out, holding the roll of film, which was later found crumpled on the sidewalk. After that incident, whenever Chrissie saw Mark and Bell on the street, she wanted to be filmed and to be their friend. By giving Chrissie the exposed film, Bell showed her and the other kids that he was not trying to steal something from them. If the kids wanted to be part of the film that was fine, but if they didn’t want to, that was OK. too. Bell understood that it was hard for these kids to trust anyone, but he hoped they would learn to trust him enough to make the film…”


from GreenHouseStudio

••• We watched it from here









    1. Thank you so much for sharing your feedback – we tried to present our point of view with the same rawness as the piece itself

      Min Ko
  1. I’ve seen this movie three weeks ago and it has devastated me. I miss so much Dewayne and Lulu. I can’t give up with the grief and sorrow of having lost little Dewayne. He was so vulnerable. The way you describe your feelings in your text is heartbreaking also, and the way you succeed in expressing them is an achievement. Heartful respect to you.


  2. Thanks Hussein – my husband and I are so drawn to this visceral style of storytelling about real people – good to hear we aren’t the only ones – we take much humility and gratitude of our position in life today. The pain is a gift and a teacher that we try to listen to so we may navigate to a place of inner strength … Best wishes

    Min Ko

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