The movie Streetwise, one of the most celebrated documentaries of all time, was originally released in 1984. Its 2019 theatrical rerelease and restoration is courtesy of Janus Films.
Seattle 1983. Taking their camera to the streets of what was supposedly America’s most livable city, filmmaker Martin Bell, photographer Mary Ellen Mark, and journalist Cheryl McCall set out to tell the stories of those society had left behind: homeless and runaway teenagers living on the city’s margins. Born from a Life magazine exposé by Mark and McCall, Streetwise follows an unforgettable group of at-risk children—including iron-willed fourteen-year-old Tiny, who would become the project’s most haunting and enduring face, along with the pugnacious yet resourceful Rat and the affable drifter DeWayne—who, driven from their broken homes, survive by hustling, panhandling, and dumpster diving. Granted remarkable access to their world, the filmmakers craft a devastatingly frank, nonjudgmental portrait of lost youth growing up far too soon in a world that has failed them.
The film was nominated for the 1985 Best Feature Length Documentary Oscar. It lost out to the equally as powerful The Times of Harvey Milk.
The sequel to Streetwise, Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell, was released theatrically July 19, 2019.