Lonely Pack: Playing at being kids

     |    Saturday, der 1. March 2014

Sonu and his friends run, shout, play soccer and still believe in superheroes. They are only kids, but they have already met the darkest side of life. They are the heroes of LONELY PACK, a documentary by Justin Peach that goes deep into the lives of a group of children who live on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal.

The gang spends the day prowling around looking for food and begging money from generous tourists. They sleep on the street, some of them don’t have shoes, and many of these children have been sexually abused by Western tourists. They are aware of their situation and of the possibilities open to them, but they seem to keep an inner strength.

They are afraid of growing old, since an adult beggar cannot earn money as easily as a child. Most non-tourists walk by without even noticing them. One child shouts out…”we clean your shoes and collect your garbage…we are the poor, you need us…” Most of the street children are addicted to drugs, and, even though they more or less know that their future looks bleak, they continue to play at being kids.

No music, no dialogue, and no mise-en-scène makes LONELY PACK a master piece of direct cinema. Peach puts the camera at the same level of kids‘ eyes, moving among them, becoming one of them. The long observational sequences allow the action to unfold in an improvised way, open and waiting for the unexpected. The group of kids moves naturally; the camera does not seem to bother them, and the presence of a stranger does not inhibit them at all. And, since they wake up at dawn, all of them packed together at a corner of the street, we follow them until sunset, and we become witnesses of one of the most dramatic situations that occurs daily in Nepal.

Clara Rodríguez Arasanz