In 1985, the New York Times reviewed Streetwise, a documentary on the life and lives of teenagers (Rat, Tiny, Shellie, and DeWayne) living on the streets of Seattle:
‘’Streetwise,’’ a study of young teen-age vagrants living in Seattle, began as an article (by Cheryl McCall) and photo-essay (by Mary Ellen Mark) in Life magazine. As a feature film, produced by Miss McCall and directed by Martin Bell, it still has the quality of a photo-essay observing a number of homeless teen- agers without structuring a narrative or otherwise commenting on what is seen. This shapelessness, and the unacknowledged presence of the camera in what seem to be small, intimate moments, would hurt the film if its interview footage were not so unmistakably authentic and, at times, so wrenching. ‘’Streetwise’’ has its touches of sensationalism, but much of it is all too real.
On Wed. Oct. 21, 92YTribeca will have a free screening with a 16mm film print from the archive of the New York Public Library. Director Martin Bell and photographer Mary Ellen Mark will be in person for Q&A.