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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
Singer employed his friends in the tunnels as his crew. Singer claims that these people, with no prior experience in filmmaking whatsoever, were incredible in their ability to set up lighting rigs, dollies, and electrical wiring, mostly without the use of tools or real grip equipment. To make the dolly for tracking shots, Singer and his carpenter built a rig made out of wood and metal scraps. Without a power drill, they would heat a metal rod and 'singe' a hole into the wood to put a screw or dowel in for fixture. 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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