Manhole Children

(C)NHK / Efubun-no-ichi Inc.

Story
In early 1990, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia was forced to make the transition from a communist to capitalist economy. The rapid introduction of a free market economy, however, produced massive economic confusion that caused massive unemployment and plunged nearly half of the population into poverty. In the winter of 1998, while economic disorder was still at its height, thousands of children were living in manholes in the streets of Ulan Bator. The manholes provide access to a vast network of steam pipes that provide homes with heat. The children survived the bitter cold Mongolian winter by using these pipes as a heat source. Young children not yet ten years old were living in a lawless no man’s land of theft and violence. Abused by their parents and separated from their families, they suffered great psychological trauma. In the process of documenting their plight, the film crew met three youngsters among others: Dashaa (14), the leader of a group of boys; Boldoo (13), a member of that group; and Oyun (14), the leader of a group of girls.

Talks: Yoshio Harada
Director: Taro Takahashi
Producer: Hideya Yamaguchi

English Subtitles

Manhole Children