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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
The soundtrack for the film was provided by DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis), who is a critically-acclaimed producer and DJ. He is notorious, however, for being very protective of licensing his music for other venues or projects, having declined many other scoring offers in the past. When a friend of Singer's saw the footage assembled to a rough cut, he suggested Shadow for the soundtrack. Singer got hold of a couple of Shadow's albums, and loved the music so much, he began to cut the music into his film without any contact with the DJ. When fellow producer Ben Freedman told him he would need the rights to the music, the duo concocted a scheme whereby they would write a note to him and give it to an attractive female friend who would go backstage after a show and personally hand-deliver it. It worked. Weeks later, the two scheduled a flight to LA to coincide with a last-minute meeting with Shadow and his agent. According to Shadow, he was prepared to turn down the men's offer to use his music. But when they showed him a rough edit of the film with his music that Singer had already cut-in, Shadow was taken aback and completely impressed. He not only let them use existing titles, but even remixed some older tracks intercut with new audio samples recorded by Singer in the tunnels as a special score done for the film. See more »
This movie is amazing. Essentially made by the homeless about the homeless (with some help from an Englishman with no film experience). The 16mm looks amazing, and the darkness of the underground is a great setting. This movie won awards at Sundance and it's not hard to see why, this sort of bleeding heart left story line is always good for a for awards. This film actually deserved all the awards and it's not often I say that about a movie. It is essentially the story of homeless people living in a community under Penn Station in New York, and all the characters are engaging and fun, even if it is hard to understand them at times. This is what documentary film making should be about, this movie wasn't made by a film student, it was made by someone who felt deeply for the homeless and decided to help them. And because of this film all the homeless living there were given homes.
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