Director's Statement: "Street Kids"
BY CATHERINE CHOJNOWSKI
STREET KIDS IS A SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM ON THE VOLUNTARILY HOMELESS TRAVELERS OF NYC'S STREETS, THEIR LIVES, AND THEIR UNIQUE SUBCULTURE.
Having grown up in New York City, I've always considered the countless subcultures the city is home to an integral part of what makes New York City so special. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time loitering on stoops and sitting in parks with my friends around the East Village and Alphabet City, specifically on St. Marks Place, a street known for its tattoo shops, piercing boutiques that rarely ever turn down anyone no matter how young they might appear, and its general distinctive punk rock allure.
If you've ever been to St. Mark’s Place, theres a very high chance that you’ve encountered the individuals that New York City natives refer to as "crusties." Their punk rock aesthetic, large sleeping bags, and adorable animal companions make them pretty distinguishable, even on a street like St. Mark's Place. Most of these individuals are voluntarily homeless and travel from city to city by any means possible -- freight trains, hitch hiking, cheap "Chinatown" buses. I always found their blatant rejection of societal norms and care-free attitudes compelling and honestly admirable. It seems as though everyone aspires to travel and see the world, but very few of us are willing to drop everything and set out into the world knowing that nothing -- not shelter, not food, not means of travel -- is going to be guaranteed.
Street Kids was the second short documentary film I have worked on and my biggest concern going into it was misrepresenting the subculture I was going to attempt to condense into roughly five minutes of film. For this reason, I wanted to speak to multiple people in order to get more insight and multiple perspectives. I found myself wandering around the East Village like I had years ago, except this time I was equipped with my camera and trying to capture someone else's experience instead of living out my own.
Although the process of creating this short documentary was slightly intimidating to me at first, I ended up meeting some amazing people through this project.
Catherine Chonjowski is a NYC-based multimedia freelance journalist and a student at CUNY Baruch College.
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