Photo by Fred AskewToday we take a look at Sway, another 2006 documentary from New York film maker Richard Sandler. The subject of Sway is the New York subway, and is the culmination of 14 years worth of video taping. New York to many of us is an anathema, a huge sprawling mass of humanity most of which who seem to suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder combined with a healthy dose of eccentricity.

The New York subway system is not merely an underground railroad system, it is a city inside a city. In Many ways it is the arteries of the body that is New York, it allows the life blood, the people, to flow through the city. Disney and Guilliani may have cleaned up Times Square of all the preachers, but what they actually did was drive them underground, literally! This means your soul can be saved on the way to work in the morning!

More prevalent though are the busker’s, most have their territory staked out in their favorite station, or even platform. From Heavy Metal, to Classical, Guitar to Clarinet, even Spoons and Saws, all is there for the listening. For those of you looking for a more visual form of entertainment, a tap dancer! Bow legged, slightly overweight, and with no music, we get to watch her strut, or should that be ‘tap’ her stuff on a basically empty platform.

The entertainment is not all static though, some of the more enterprising artistes and preachers actually do their performing on the trains. Although the captive audience about the moving rail car seems more the purview of the begging crowd. They too are artistic in their own way, white cane tapping away, and the inevitable cup rattling a few coins. It has long been said that when you lose a sense, the other senses become more acute, it must be true, because these guys are really good at zeroing in on where the passengers are seated! My favorite though, was the Jerry Springeresque amputee, a gentleman with no legs, walking on his hands and rattling a tin cup!

As Richard Sandler told me when I asked him about Sway, the New York underground is an edgy, and slightly dangerous place. I believe him!

Sway has done quite well in the indie film fest circuit, if you get the chance to see it, I encourage you to do so.

You may also want to rethink your ideas about using the subway when you visit New York.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!