Inside Outside Under Bucharest
“I would have liked a childhood like the other children who have their parents, their toys…
It has been different for me: street people are my family now.”
(Bruce Lee – king of the tunnels)
When we first visited their subterranean house in Bucharest city center, we never expected that, over time, we would become part of their family. A group of children aged up to forty years, they are the street tribe of Gara de Nord.
Trained with punches, they have learned to growl in order to be heard. Many of them, growing up without parents and in social exclusion, bear the marks of the early-discovered drug-addiction, disease and prison. Sometimes it seems they rush toward death on purpose and sadly someone has truly told me so.
Yet, by themselves, they have learned the values of hospitality, sharing, and fraternal bond. In search of affection and safety, these boys have given each other mutual support gathering around a fatherly and authoritative figure. According to rules that can be easily misunderstood in the ‘civilized’ world, they founded a small community opposed to the society above ground.
The underground tunnel had turned into a shelter for the outcasts, but it was also the meeting place for a community in search of autonomy and self-sustenance.
The leading figure of the group, a charismatic and experienced man called Bruce Lee, spent the last years trying to provide a comfortable house for his “family”. He was very proud to show what they had been able to set up, despite being neglected by the rest of the world. But in July 2015 local authorities arrested Bruce Lee, among many other street inhabitants. Accused of organized crime and drug trafficking, Bruce Lee will likely be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Since 2013 our research has followed the stories of Bruce Lee and those who grew up in severe material and emotional deprivation, but had then found acceptance in a rejected but surprisingly compassionate community.
For two years we lived on the streets of Bucharest, with one of the most marginalized communities in Europe. During this period, having experienced some extreme consequences of social disorder ourselves, we have been forced to reconsider our own condition, realizing how fragile and unpredictable are the principles that govern the existence of humankind.
We have documented a complex reality, in which illegality and drugs are largely the side effects of a form of adaptation to marginalization. We hope to enable our audience to imagine what underground life was like in Gara de Nord, without their eyes being clouded by pity, judgment or fear, and make them part of a personal encounter.