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U.S., 1989
Directed by Charles Lane
With Charles Lane, Tom Alpern, Darnell Williams
Approx. 97 mins. DCP.

“The film is a nod to Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID (1921); Lane created a silent film out of “protest to myself,” knowing the challenge would make him a stronger filmmaker. The resulting film is the feature-length version of A PLACE IN TIME (1977), a short film Lane made as an undergraduate at SUNY Purchase. As in his student film, Lane plays an unnamed artist, one of an odd gaggle of buskers and street performers camped across from the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village. He is lucky if he draws a few portraits a day. He spends the rest of his time sitting on his crate, looking glum. At night, he sleeps in the cellar of a derelict building, fashioned into comfort through blankets and cinder blocks. The torpor of his life is punctured by a small child (a two year-old Nicole Alysia, Lane’s own daughter). She, unlike everyone else in the film, is unperturbed by the harsh tempo of the city around her. Her mother loses her in the bustle of the evening crowd; her father (Darnell Williams) is murdered in an alley for some loose cash. Witnessing all this, the artist decides to take care of the little girl.” – Annie Geng, Screen Slate


“Shot in black and white in a bitter-cold New York City, SIDEWALK STORIES is buoyed by Chaplinesque physical comedy even as it takes an unflinching look at what it means to be without a home in a violent, uncaring society.”
 – Christine Arnold Dolan, Miami Herald

“[Lane] has had the audacity to make a black-and-white silent movie and make it in the face of today's shamelessly callous values, with a brimming heart and an activist's outraged passion.”
 – Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

“Although SIDEWALK STORIES has a sentimental streak a mile wide, it is saved from seeming saccharine by the hard facts of modern life.”
 – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Film Forum