A bleak drama about street children abandoned by the Portuguese juvenile system, Os Mutantes/The Mutants was immediately controversial in Portugal, where it inspired nationwide debate over reform of the nation's youth authorities. Os Mutantes examines the lives of Pedro, Ricardo and Andreia, three kids in their early teens who have rejected life in juvenile homes or with foster families to take their chances on their own. They drift into petty crime and are exploited by sexual predators; the two boys end up working in a pornographic film, while Andreia becomes pregnant. When Andreia turns to her mother for help, the mother turns her away, telling her she can barely support herself, let alone a new baby. Os Mutantes was filmed with a largely non-professional cast; director Teresa Villaverde had originally planned to make a documentary about homeless children, but when government authorities refused to cooperate, she used her research as the basis for this screenplay, giving many of the children she met in her travels roles in the film.
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