Children Underground (2001)
Directed by Edet Belzberg
Language-romanian (subtitles depend on which version you get)
Ok, something different this time. A documentary on streetkids in Romania, Bucharest.
It is already over ten years old and its been quite a few years since I first saw it.
But sometimes I still go back and watch it again, don`t know why exactly.
I have some kind of connection to Romania, been there like eleven times over the course of 12 years between `91 and 2002, and once more in 2009 or 2010, not sure which anymore….
I learned the language to some extent and due to my multiple visits, I have a certain bond with that country. I have seen kids like that , I arrived at least twice in Bucharest by train , walking the tunnels and hallways of that train station, seeing that kind of poverty up close is a real culture shock, at least the first time around. But you will never get used to that.
The film follows a group of kids over the course of a year or so, maybe even longer.
The filmmakers don`t stop filming, even when ugly things happen, like beatings or drug use.
This makes it more real and more troubling to watch, especially when the kids are as young as 8 and up. It shows the problems of a country without decent government and money, unable to help those who need help the most. And it shows the problems that arise when one tries to help. There aren`t enough beds or medicine, to help them all, some don`t want help, some would need psychiatric treatment and long-time rehabilitation. Most of them suffer from some kind of psychiatric trauma or abnormal behaviour, yet very few people care . The state doesn`t have the money or facilities to help them. Of course, even in rich countries, people can fall thru the cracks of the system, some people just cannot be helped, but these are kids, very young kids, which makes it ten times more haunting than anything else about homeless people in general. I won`t write about every kid that`s in this, or their backgrounds and stories, watch it for yourself, if you dare.
I don`t know why one should watch this or what it might do to you, or if it changes your opinions on anything…it is reality, the ugly reality , that most of us would like to ignore.
It didn`t make me donate or join any help organisations, sad, but true…part of watching it is voyeurism, for sure, the only reason I watched it was because it takes place in Romania, a land I know a bit about, and once you watch it, it`s hard to turn off. The struggle of these kids is heartbreaking, truly sad and disturbing. There are more countries where stuff like this happens, Russia isn`t any different, South America sure has some really bad places and who knows where else this kinda stuff is everyday reality.
And I really don`t know a good reason, why you should watch this…in any case, it`s a really well-made documentary on a very sad subject. Once you saw it, it is impossible to forget.
Some of the kids are now to be found on facebook through the films group, if one feels the need to contact any of them. Seems the situation got better for some of them, while others are still on the streets.
There is a documentary , a little bit similar to this, but I can`t remember the title, at all. It focuses on a boy and a girl, the film title I believe is also their names…if you know that film, let me know the title, looking for that for ages now…also takes place in Romania.