It's been said that when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, what emerged after the fall of communism wasn't democracy so much as capitalism, and as many countries once supported by the USSR were forced to fend for themselves, a sharp divide was created between the wealthy and the poor. One such nation was Mongolia, where nearly fifty percent of the population was living below the poverty line a few years after the end of communism. The Mongolians who suffered the most were children, either orphaned or abandoned by their parents, who ended up living on the streets in a place where temperatures fall to 40 degrees below zero during the winter. In the capital city of Ulan Bator, homeless kids take shelter in the steam tunnels beneath the city's streets, and in a world where they're forced to rely on their cunning to survive against violent criminals, they've formed gangs to look after one another in hopes they can defy the odds against their survival. Boldoo, Dashaa and Oyun are three boys who've grown into teenagers in Ulan Bator, but their next step is to become productive adults in a place where opportunities are hard to come by. Filmmaker Taro Yakahashi profiles Boldoo, Dashaa and Oyun and offers a glimpse into the world of Mongolia's homeless children in the documentary Manhole Children; the film received its North American premiere at the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival, where it received a special jury award "for its emotionally brutal depiction of children surviving underground in Mongolia."
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