Door 4: Streetwise

The city of Seattle is rather known as being the birthplace of grunge rock. The question is in which environment this style of music was created. In the early 80s Seattle was voted most livable city in the United States of America, so writer Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark set out to document the people that fell throught that system.

This led to the Life magazine article "Streets of the Lost", documenting the life of homeless youth. When returning from the assignment, Mark's husband, Martin Bell, convinced her to make documentary film about it.

As Mary Ellen Mark already gained the trust, it took a little less convincing to do, but still not an easy task to document their life for 56 days. Despite the sensitive topic, the film is not voyeuristic, but rather compassionate and taking the group of youngsters seriously. Interestingly the film was funded by singer Willie Nelson and Tom Waits made the score.

The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 57th Academy Awards, but lost to The Times of Harvey Milk by Robert Epstein and Richard Schmiechen. Bell and Mark, who kept contact with one of the main characters, made a follow up 32 years later portraying the life of Tiny, called Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell.