Title: Dark Days
Author: Independent Spirit Award (2000)
Marc Singer, an aspiring model, gave up his life to live underground in an abandoned railroad tunnel with homeless people, in an attempt to understand these peoples’ lives and do what he could to help them find a better life.
For two years Marc Singer lived with the people who make their home in the tunnels beneath Penn Station in New York, creating an unflinching portrait of a part of society that is literally and figuratively beneath our notice.
“You’d be surprised what the human mind and body can adjust to,” says Tito, one of the tunnel dwellers. He and his neighbors are homeless, but the tunnels offer them a degree of safety that doesn’t exist on the streets above. In this strange place they manage to achieve a remarkable degree of domesticity, building shelters, keeping pets, and cooking meals.
Singer has an eye for telling images, such as Dee dragging a sofa along the train tracks like Sisyphus rolling his stone in Hell. With its grainy black-and-white photography and haunting soundtrack, this is a surprisingly beautiful film, but it is never sentimental, nor does it try to impose a false nobility on its subjects. Dark Days simply shows us a world that we never knew existed, and in this simplicity lies its power. —Simon Leake