Down Here is a story about the downtown we don’t visit. A place that’s growing in the heart of our cities. It is a place we occasionally glimpse from our cars. But Down Here stops and enters. We confront a world that appears post-apocalyptic. A world filled with the decaying artifacts of a once functioning city - and the survivors.
The film portrays a harshly surreal world inhabited by the homeless, fringe people - the poor, hungry, sick, ashamed. Alongside cinematically filmed scenes of dark allies, refuse strewn streets, crumbling buildings, are intercut conversations with eight remarkable residents. These intimate conversations unfold in a most unusual way. The homeless, when interviewed at all are usually filmed on the street in harsh light competing for our attention with traffic, sirens, and fellow residents often hostile to the camera crew.
In Down Here the residents are filmed in a manner usually reserved for celebrities - they are beautifully lit, the environment is quiet and safe, and the conversations are one-on-one. No film crew. The director is alone in a room with the subject and the camera. As the story progresses, we become more and more deeply immersed in this alien world. And then the film pulls back sharply outside the box and we see ourselves.
Down Here escapes the clichés, resists the pressure to be drawn superficially into this world. The filmmaker remains an outsider, a bridge between the alien world of the downtown alleys, and the affluent suburbs outside. Rather than presenting the homeless as victims, he allows them to speak for themselves. Ultimately we leave behind the easy judgements and learn something about humanity.