Children Underground

Children UndergroundThis astonishingly intimate documentary follows five homeless children in Romania, where the collapse of communism has led to a life on the street for 20,000 children.

From a 16-year-old girl who runs her gang with a mixture of brutality and compassion, to a small, intelligent, and remarkably articulate 12-year-old boy, these children seem at first feral and frightening--yet over the course of the movie their loneliness, desperation, and glimpses of hope will transform how you perceive them.

Make no mistake: this is difficult watching. As Children Underground explores the meager state resources to support these children and follows some of the children back to their difficult families, the scope of the problem becomes larger and more irresolvable.

But this documentary offers an unblinking and deeply compassionate insight into the extremes of human existence; you will not forget it easily

Watch the full documentary now (playlist)

Ratings: 8.48/10 from 25 users.

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47 Comments / User Reviews

  1. mazzy

    What is this metallic paint that the children huff? So many problems on many extreme levels. Thanks for the post.

  2. kozmijn

    it's just ordinary silver paint like you said.The solvent makes them high. But they don't use it anymore now. It's cheaper with paint thinner.

  3. Lisandro

    Its just heart breaking, hope the government would do something. Thanks for posting Vlatko.

  4. docwatcher

    Posted here are only two 27min segments, from a film that is 107min long.
    We need the other 53min, in order to truly appreciate what this film has to offer.
    ie: incomplete

  5. benado

    Added you to my Facebook. I'm hoping many more people will watch this particular documentary and of course the many others. Thank you for this site.

  6. Charles B.

    I feel like crying. Truly heartbreaking in almost every way. :-(

  7. cricket

    I had to stop watching this half way through the second video. I just wanted to take Marian(?) and bring him home with me, my own son is just a bit younger. I knew there were kids on the street, but I did not realize how young some were. Truly heartbreaking.

  8. Kellin

    It has taken me 2 days to watch this film. We in America see children of teen years going down this rough road but to see an 8 and 10 year old living this kind of life is so hard. My heart and soul are full of prayers.

  9. tami

    this film is truly heartbreaking and soul cries out for these children. i fell in love with mihai immediatley, as i'm sure have many others. if i could, i would go find this amazing young man and bring him home.

  10. Raymond

    Compassion is useless without solution. The government need to be informed and they must do something about it.

  11. Romania Mihai Gavrila

    I am from Romania,Bucharest.I watched this documentary in 2002 (this documentary is from 2000) All the problems were resolved.We don't have street child enymore.All we have on the streets is the ones that made 18 yr and got out from foster care and have no were to go.
    For you're own information,Cristiana(the boyish girl,the boss ) died in 2006 becose of cold.Macarena was never seen since 2005.Mihai got out and he is in italy.Ana is at her mom now and has a girl with an unknoun man.Her brother is in Spain at work.All of them are now over 19 yr !

  12. Ina

    All the problems were resolved???? Wow, that was fast!
    I'm romanian and i live in Bucharest and can inform you that "the problem" was not "resolved". Maybe is less apparent, but it's still there.

  13. Syly1212

    Some of the adults in this documentary seem to think the kids were the ones in the wrong for leaving home and not wanting to go back.

    Kids may run away 1 time for the adventure, but I know first hand that a child does NOT choose to live on the streets over an allegedly warm, comfortable and loving home!

  14. Happygoluca

    Ana's parents are utter mongoloids! That step father of hers: "I know she's a virgin because I bathed her"...... Jeeeez. And her mother? My god. No wonder she ran away.
    I'm sad to hear Christina died. Can anyone else confirm that?

  15. aaron

    I feel NO sympathy for Macarana.

  16. kim

    i whas crying over this doku.

    i had a hard time as a kid and i had live on the streets some months, know how hard it is. speciel in the winther times :( but its whas nothing like this!!!
    puur puur kids!


  17. Maricela

    I live in Romania, so I can see children begging all the time. They dont have such a bad life : I can see them eating everyday in expensive places, sitting at the bar, etc. They come to us looking miserable, and after they take our money, they have a better life than the ones who gave them the money. Don't cry for the children for whom begging and living on the streets is a family tradition, cry for the ones who actually work all day long and can't gain enough to pay the rent.

  18. jenna

    maricela - the reason people cry at this film isn't because we are sad that they don't eat well, but because the situation of their lives is that they grew up with so much torture and lack of love, and now they have nowhere better to go than the dangerous and unfriendly street.
    of course i guess it is different for you than for us, because we just see the documentaries about the emotional part of their lives and you get to see their everyday toughness and the times they break the law and fight and cause trouble. but come on, you can't say that we shouldn't feel bad for kids who ran away from abusive situations, and are struggling with emotional trauma, just because they do get on with their lives and seem like all theyre doing in the street is having fun. i think one thing that this documentary taught me is that just because these kids' experiences have toughened them, they actually still have feelings, they do think about their lives and realize what a bad situation theyre in, and that there isn't really anything that they could do about it. a good solution has yet to be discovered, so all they can do is just try to live, and try not to think about things too much, and use drugs to block the thoughts out if they just keep coming. and that's why people cry when they watch this. the desperateness of the situation, and pity for all the kids who unfortunately have to live like that.
    because no matter how you put it, even though they might find ways to eat at fancy restaurants, if they're at the point that they're children living and sleeping parentless on the streets and begging, there is no way that their hearts can be in good condition

  19. ralph

    see what i mean..where is GOD..this is madness..

  20. esma

    if itsnt for these children what the hell that damn unicef for?

  21. petar

    I am from Serbia and situation is tragic too(near Romania), but i don see now childern in street.

    Here this haotic life wase normal in 90's when 99% of people didnt have what to eat!?

  22. Noor

    This film really is an eye-opener... And the saddest thing is how helpless I am. It feels like theres nothing I can do except pray for these children. One thing is for sure though, I am NEVER going to pass by a street kid again without at least trying to help. BTW, I'm from Jordan and the problem is just as bad there. Seems like the whole world has lost its humanity!!

  23. Alissbert

    watching this was almost unbearable, i could not stop my crying for the whole while. It destroys me to know these things happen, and to see such beautiful children in such deep torment, God just brakes my heart. Of all the children Ana just stole my heart, such a pretty smart and charismatic girl, the way she take care of her brother, the strength with which she endured the lifestyle and most of all, her innocence. And Mihai, wow, what an insightful and incredibly wise little man, the way he eloquently speaks of life rendered me speechless. God bless these noble souls and bring them joy and riches for years too com, enough suffering.

    thank you so much for sharing this film

  24. Linda

    I feel the most sorry for Macarana. You can see her digression right in front of your face. She then snaps and is never the same from the hunger and lack of attention and love combined with the drugs.
    This is the sad truth of what sometimes happens to people who live on the streets, some can escape and some never do, thats why you see some people walking down the street completly out of this world in their own world unable to ever be normal again with the best help. She is to me the biggest tragedy of all of them.

    I want to help, I think if everyone helped out or gave money to the places that are doing the help over there maybe a diffrence can be made. I don't trust any of the world organizations likes Unicef etc - they make too much money at the top the ceo's take home hundreds of thousands of dollars and very little gets done after that, the trinkle down is disgusting. It's best to go where the problem is, usually you will find honest to goodness people who are willing to help they just need more help from outside sources like us on this page.

  25. Francesca

    Can't believe the parents in this situation.

    If I was a mother I would be fighting to keep my kids home. The parents don't seem happy to see them, they just pretend they care for the cameras. Disgrace.

    I really hope some of the kids on here did find a way off of the streets and are healthy and happy now. Probably unlikely, but I really do hope so.

  26. Kelsey

    Does anyone know where one can view the last part of the film? I would love to see how it ended. Such an amazing film from what I've seen so far. They all come off so tough, one almost forgets they are children until you see them cry and their vulnerability really comes out. Very sad and heartbreaking.

  27. Simone

    Kelsey...I think it's kinda ironic how you 'would love to see how it ended'..I know what you meant was..the actual documentary since it was really eye opening. BUT...the thing is that it hasn't ended.. and without help it won't end soon. I am a Canadian...I am studying in Romania in a way smaller city than Bucharest (10 times smaller) and I still see children under 12 years of age begging or washing car windows at red light intersections for money..I've been to Bucharest and it is horrible what you see. I have actual pictures of an orphanage similar to the one Ana's parents (btw I would not even call them parents..because their attitude is disgraceful) were talking about (where they wanted to send her) a city 3 hours distance from Bucharest..with abandoned children with psychic problems..It was heartbreaking...This one boy.. around age one picture is just sitting a corner with just some baggy dirty t-shirt on. I am finishing college in July and thinking of becoming an art teacher.
    Oh I would want to help these children but the truth is Romania is also a very poor country and funds are hard to get. Something else that is very upsetting is some people find the way to help stray dogs and give them shelters but they are somehow blind when an orphan child passes them by. Sorry for this long long comment...but I am really worked up about this video..I wasn't expecting to see something like this about Romania on this site. Maybe we could do something about how things are in Romania. I would love to find a group of people willing to do so. If anyone is actually interested in doing something about this. I will try and help in anyway possible considering I know English and Romanian and I am still going to be in Romania for quite a long's just really hard to begin something alone. I am a christian and I truly believe if I happened to watch this and you happen to read this..we could do something great. It just takes some courage and power of will.
    I pray that God will work though all of us to help change the way a lot of the worlds youth is living.

  28. Sunz

    Hey I can understand why you're so worked up, I saw this documentary a year ago and I still feel like crying when I think about it.
    And I love how you asked about people actually willing to do something to help. Coz most people always feel sympathy but they don't actually DO anything. I'm also a university student (in Dubai). A couple of years ago I started working with this "youth-awareness" group. Basically they are concerned about the youth today and they try and provide opportunities for them to use their talents. It isn't anything major, but we are trying to make a difference. I know I speak for all of them when I say that we would totally be willing to work with you (even if it's long distance). We would be willing to brainstorm, plan, and maybe even provide some finance for any projects that can actually help these children.
    Why would be willing to do this?
    Well, i guess the documentary broke all our hearts...
    and we may not be able to do much, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. (looool - im not usually this philasophical :P)
    So if you're (or anybody who reads this) interested, please leave a comment...
    Im not really sure i should leave my email here for you...

  29. Marissa Mollenko

    Who ever said they feel no sympathy for Macarena makes me sick. Just because some of these children are cuter is no reason to feel worse for them like that awful nun who wanted to take the children captive against their will. Plus they all do drugs and Mikai or w/e lies about doing drugs in the documentary...

    Also, someone was saying the lives of street children are not that bad...Although I disagree I think it depends on wheere you come from. Coming from a comfortable American background, yes the situation is awful. But I also understand that in other countries life is much harder and in relation to that their sitution may seem less bad. I know because my family is from the former Soviet Union and I've heard and witnessed quite a bit..

  30. Marissa Mollenko

    and the part where Macarena's teacher shares the story of how she asked "i must have parents too everybody else"..sadest part for me. You have to be heartless to not feel bad for her...

  31. Larissa

    Who ever said they feel no sympathy for Macarena makes me sick. Just because some of these children are cuter is no reason to feel worse for them like that awful nun who wanted to take the children captive against their will. Plus they all do drugs and Mikai or w/e lies about doing drugs in the documentary…

    Also, someone was saying the lives of street children are not that bad…Although I disagree I think it depends on wheere you come from. Coming from a comfortable American background, yes the situation is awful. But I also understand that in other countries life is much harder and in relation to that their sitution may seem less bad. I know because my family is from the former Soviet Union...

    ...and the part where Macarena’s teacher shares the story of how she asked “i must have parents too everybody else”..sadest part for me. You have to be heartless to not feel bad for her…

  32. Mike Lip

    i thought the movie was very sad because these young kids have endure all of this hardship that no 10 year old should have to. 10 year olds should be thinking about what game they are going to play outside, not when they can get more drugs or when they are going to get some food in their stomachs. the part with the heart and hands place was also very sad because the one child needed a drug but they couldn't give it to him because it was too expensive. these kids get basically addicted to this paint that they huff and that is more important to them than getting food. its awful to think how much of horrible parents these children have and how they just don't care about their children.

  33. Tudose M

    I'm sorry to say this but macarena family has been known since left hospital and it was after the children's home after he left the street and began to drogheza at the age of 7 years that will tell you Tudose Mihai Alexandru
    thank you

  34. Rachelnico

    Wow, this is all so sad, but as a westernized culture it is very hard for us to realize how others live...take people in developing countries...their everyday lives are harder than anything you could ever imagine. And since thye don't even know how good life gets, they are fine with it...Were so lucky and we aren't even grateful.

  35. Eric

    Where did the kids s***? I never saw a bathroom.

  36. Andrei Tunariu

    hehehe, of course its shocking to us westerners but I bet you take any one of those kids and mesure them up to one of ours and he will have 10x more know how, 10x more caracter and 10x more chances to survive anything! Our kids are spoiled and unchallenged and therefore mature at an abnormally slow pace. Then when they grow up, put them in any difficult situation and they will be lost and weak. There is only 1 rule in this world; SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.

  37. patricialee

    You must be kidding! What do any of these children have for a future? Most will end up as drug addicts in prison.

  38. Emily Canreus

    okay, so Mihai's dad; you tied your son to a radiator with a chain around his neck and can't understand why he decided to run away as soon as he could?!

  39. Maria Grasmick

    That was amazing

  40. Mauro Ghiggi

    Mihai is a little angel, a boy with alot of potential and brain left. i wish him well in life.

  41. Tudose Mihai

    Thank you Mauro Ghiggi

  42. Tudose Mihai

    I remember my father telling me that it will not run away from home and found that iam still run away from home

  43. Nyna Petrov

    I never cried so hard. Mihai my prayers and my love goes out to you. Please let us know you are ok.

  44. Nyna Petrov

    Mihai my prayers goes out to you. Please let us know if you are ok. I never cried so hard. My aches and pains are nothing to what you being through.

  45. Tabatha Dunlap

    Wildly inaccurate statement, bad spelling so by your own reasoning a westerner huh?
    And wrong use of Survival of the fittest, that is not the actual meaning of it....

  46. Ashlee Ferreira

    its so obvious Ana and Marian were sexually abused. most of the kids must have been facing unspeakable abuse to leave home and prefer to live like that. horrified at what they've endured and horrified at their parents, system and culture which is beyond archaic, ignorant and cruel. i hope wherever they are they have found some peace

  47. trista

    You're probably one of those men or women working behind the counter's selling them that paint! You are a immoral human being to think that they don't have a terrible life, as they sleep in the subways, on the dirty,freezing ground out in the open, how DARE you say what you said above!

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