On New York’s packed subways, violations of personal space are unavoidable—an inevitability that emboldens more predatory behavior. Underground brings these stories into the light.

Funding Initiative
Short-Form Open Call

Derek Howard

Derek Howard is a director and cinematographer whose collaborations have led to screenings at festivals including Venice, Toronto, Sundance, HotDocs, IDFA, and many others. He has participated in the IDFA Summer School, IDFA Academy, Reykjavik Trans Atlantic Lab, and the Berlinale Talents. Most recently, he shot The Hottest August, assistant Show more directed Aquarela, and directed a short film (The Harvesters) that premiered at True/False. Show less

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The Film

Every day on the subways of New York City, the hustle and bustle of mass transit provides a veil of anonymity. Individual faces blur into a mass of humanity, making invasions of personal space inevitable. There are the common innocuous interactions, but violations of personal space often cross the line. Sexual harassment and other predatory behaviors take place on subways and station platforms in plain sight. Most witnesses and victims remain silent until they’re prompted to open up. Once they do, stories from people from a variety of backgrounds give very similar accounts. Perpetrators are emboldened, committing crimes in front of other commuters as if no one else was around. Underground emboldens the victims of these incidents to share their stories in hopes of changing the stigma surrounding public violations.