When the six Angulo brothers broke their father’s rules and started leaving the apartment together on their own, they had no idea a chance encounter on the streets of New York would change their lives forever.
By April 2010, the Angulo brothers -- Narayana, Mukunda, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (who now goes by Glenn) and Jagadesh (who now goes by Eddie) -- had just started leaving their home without their parents. They had spent the past 14 years living with their father, who kept them from the outside world.
In their suits, waist-long hair and sunglasses, the six boys were walking around Manhattan’s Lower East Side when filmmaker Crystal Moselle spotted them.
“I was just walking down the street,” Moselle recalled to ABC News’ “20/20.” “It was like, one kid, another kid and another kid, and all of a sudden it was six of them. And I ran after them.”
Moselle went up to the brothers to ask who they were. With their shared passion for films, they quickly became friends, and over time they began to reveal to her details of their childhood. Mukunda told Crystal he had to “escape” from his apartment.
“If, I mean, Mukunda had to escape … escape from what?” Moselle said. “And at that point, I said, ‘OK, there’s a deeper story here.’”
Moselle’s documentary, “The Wolfpack,” follows the brothers, then ages 11 to 18, over the course of five years, through their unusual upbringing and discovering things about the outside world for the first time. It first premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Grand Jury prize, and will be in theaters nationwide today.
Moselle documented many of the brothers’ firsts, including their first bike ride, first visit to a restaurant, first time at a movie theater and first beach trip: She took them to Coney Island.
“It was such a beautiful thing to see them,” Moselle recalled. “It was kind of like this like baptism, as they’re crashing in the water for the first time, and it’s very beautiful.”
The Angulo brothers’ encounter with Moselle was something they would have never thought was possible five years ago, when their father Oscar Angulo, a Hare Krishna devotee from Peru, controlled when they left their family’s 16th floor apartment in the Lower East Side. For years, his wife Susanne, who homeschooled the children, their daughter Visnu and the six boys lived under his rules.
Movies, one of the few privileges allowed by their father, were the boys’ only window into life outside their apartment. They spent hours watching them, transcribing the lines into homemade scripts, and making costumes and props that they could use to then re-enact their favorite films for each other.
It was not until January 2010, when Mukunda, then 15, found the courage to leave home alone. His escape helped pave the way for the rest of his brothers to finally break free of their confinement.
“[It was] like pure excitement,” Mukunda, 20, recalled of the brothers’ first forays into the outside world.
They always traveled in a pack, roaming the streets of New York City, but did not go far from home. When Moselle ran after the boys, it felt like fate for the brothers when they learned that Moselle was a filmmaker.
“We shared the same passion. [We] immediately made a connection from there,” Bhagavan, 23, told “20/20.”
After that first encounter, they arranged to meet again, and soon the brothers asked her over for dinner at their apartment. She had no idea that she was the first outsider invited to their apartment.
Moselle became their mentor, guiding the brothers in the art of filmmaking and on their first adventures in a world they had never known.
“There was something that was so open about them that you don’t see every day when you’re in New York City,” Moselle said. “I liked being around them and teaching them things.”
As they became more accustomed to life outside, the Angulo brothers found that there were differences from what they thought life was like through the movies they watched. Bhagavan said he thought that people were “more friendly” than he had suspected.
“Not everybody’s trying to kill you,” Govinda, 22, told “20/20.”
“Everything moves slower,” Eddie, 16, added.
“In the movies, everybody understands what the other is saying, and they have a reply to it. But in real life, it’s like, ‘Could you repeat the question?’” Mukunda said. “Not everything’s a plan -- in other words -- in life.”