I just watched this 1980 classic by Hector Babenco, the father of the genre of Brazilian films looking at street kids. I have a somewhat limited tolerance for the genre of “let’s get amateur actors to play themselves so we can show poverty” genre, but there’s no questioning that this is a very fine and very sad film. The young boy in the film was himself killed by cops in 1989, at the age of 18. He attempted to build his performance here into an acting career, but as he was illiterate, he couldn’t memorize scripts and thus ended up back on the streets. As for Babenco, he had the mixed career that so many excellent foreign directors have when they come to Hollywood instead of staying in the world they know and can tell stories about effective. Kiss of the Spider Woman was excellent of course, but Ironweed is so dull and boring. He later went back to Brazil and made some well-regarded films that I have not seen. He died in 2016.
You can watch the whole thing on YouTube; as per normal with adult content films, it won’t embed for obvious reasons. So check it out if you are so inclined. Not a happy film! But a worthy one.