Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this "family." A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they've built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice. Written by
'Marc Singer' had never been a filmmaker prior to this project. He had moved underground to the tunnels as a lifestyle choice, and when he and his friends were sitting around one night, someone had said, according to Singer, "Hey we should make a film about this," and tell their stories. Singer's original hope was that the film would get some attention and help get the people out of the tunnels and into better, safer places. It did. See more »
fascinating film with a remarkable story behind it
It's nigh-impossible not to be moved by Marc Singer's remarkable first film, about a community of homeless people living in a train tunnel beneath Manhattan. What's even more inspiring is how the film got made. Then-20-year-old Singer, who'd never before run a camera, lived underground with his subjects, recruited them as crew, convinced local merchants to donate equipment and even sold his own bed to buy film. His original goal in making the film was to fund its denizens' move out of the tunnel. The result is a fascinating slice of a part of life most of us have never considered. The characters are gritty, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic and always very real. Dark Days takes homelessness out of the realm of sociological phenomenon and into an almost-visceral engagement with these people and their lives. We look in as the characters decorate their scrap-metal shacks with discarded material, earn their livings, emotionally support each other and ultimately struggle with their homes' demise. Though clearly Singer roots for his subjects, he avoids the temptation to pity them; he simply calls it as he sees it - and has lived it. There's even a happy ending.
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