Dark Days

Director: Marc Singer

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


Unveiling a subterranean shantytown infested with rats, pitch black except for the flicker of burning refuse, Dark Days defies the gleaming fantasy of “New York, New York.” Mining an underground life unimaginably sordid and harrowing, the film is a disquieting portrait of a homeless community which has survived its own inferno. With breathtaking black-and-white imagery and a gorgeous electronic score, Marc Singer’s first film is an epiphany: candid, brutal, and deeply humanistic. Five years in the making, Dark Days focuses on a community which chose to flee Manhattan’s drug-ravaged shelter system for life underground. Building shacks out of handouts and discarded scraps, the refugees took up residence in a subterranean tunnel, where they set about fashioning an approximation of everyday home life. With electricity drawn from power lines and water tapped from city pipes, the community shucked its homelessness for a life of quasi-normalcy: raising pets, installing appliances, and inviting neighbors over for a home-cooked meal. But when AMTRAK threatened to evict the residents (some of whom had lived there for twenty years), the filmmakers, desperate to provide an alternative to the streets, enlisted the support of New York’s Coalition for the Homeless. At millennium’s close, Dark Days offers a glimmer of hope for its subjects and the society that had so shamefully forsaken them. Recounting with incredible tenderness each individual’s story and unique methodology for surviving adversity, Singer and his crew (the homeless subjects themselves) have created an enduring testimony to human strength and endurance.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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