Dark Days (2000)

by

Novice filmmaker Marc Singer lived in the bowels of a midtown Manhattan railway station for two years to shoot this harrowing account of the day-to-day existence of the homeless.

Shot in noirish black and white, Singer shows how society’s discarded and disenfranchised fashion a community of sorts in the sunless labyrinth of the station’s transit tunnels. Though told without narration, a dozen or so individual stories emerge. Dee (the sole woman depicted in the film) lost all her children in a house fire while she was high on crack; Ralph remains inconsolable after his five-year old’s rape and mutilation during a stint in prison.

In the final reel, Amtrak sends in armed police to clean out the tunnels, citing health concerns. However, the subterranean tenets happen upon a stroke of luck, as an NYC social worker discovers a cache of previously unclaimed public housing.

Featuring a sparse soundtrack by DJ Shadow, Dark Days won the Grand Jury prize for cinematography, the Freedom of Expression award, and an audience award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival

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