Dark Days (2000)
Marc Singer produced, directed, and filmed this award-winning documentary about a dozen squatters who lived for many years in the tunnels of New York City's subway system. Shooting the film in black and white accentuates the dark and dank caverns of this family-like community. We meet these people by name — Tommy, Tito, Ralph, Greg, and Dee (the only woman). They might be homeless but they aren't helpless. They're extraordinarily resourceful. They've built snug shacks underground. They sweep, paint, decorate, and clean them, cook meals, enjoy their pets, give each other haircuts, do laundry, and set up trip wires as a security alert. It's noisy, dangerous and full of rats, but it's safe compared to the homeless shelters above ground that they all despise. A badly leaking pipe provides a decent if frigid shower. By day they go above ground where one man says on a good day he earns recycling glass and plastic bottles. Singer provides no narration at all, but instead gets the people to tell their personal stories, and without exception these stories are marked by brutal realism, surprising candor, genuine insight, and, yes, sadness. When Amtrak evicted the squatters, the Coalition for the Homeless arranged for them to get apartments, and without exception everyone was thrilled. Said one tunnel dweller: "Those were dark days living down there."