SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! When you think of New York City, a few things come to mind: Sky scraping buildings, crowds of people, and its transportation system. All of these are what make the Big Apple the unique place that it is. Joe Zakko’s Subway Stops gives us a look at what everyday life is like in New York. From its beauty to its blemishes.
The 18-minute documentary is exactly what you think it would be: a day in the life of a person traveling within the New York subway system. We see what they see. Black and white visuals serve as a window into the many lives of multiple subway stations. The lives of commuters, street performers, and the homeless are all seen in this short film.
“…a day in the life of a person traveling within the New York subway system.”
One particular part of Subway Stops is a bit emotional as the camera follows a homeless man asking for change. This is shown as a street performer belts out a soul-touching rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” It is emotional in many ways, but one apparent reason is that the song symbolizes the struggle of a person’s life where it may seem like it’s in its darkest of days, yet, holding onto hope. It was definitely the most powerful part of the film.
With all the beautiful visuals and its look into a crowded New York, the short also has a minor blemish of its own. It stems from a small scripted scene. It shows a woman getting off at the wrong stop and realizing it too late. I feel that even though this may be a scene that happens often in everyday New York or the fact that it may symbolize something with more meaning, it did not need to be included. I feel that with all of the realness of the short, it stands out as something that does not quite fit with the overall picture.
Subway Stops is a very accurate look at what goes on in what is possibly the most used subway system in America. It manages to capture everything New York has to offer in one short ride.
Subway Stops screened at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…manages to capture everything New York has to offer..."