Superheroes: A Slamdance Hit

January 27, 2011 : 4:16 am | by Hannah Feigin

Superheroes, directed by Michael Barnett, is a documentary revolving around the lives of “Real-Life Superheroes.” These people, as a hobby, decide to spend their nights patrolling the streets of their towns and cities in search for criminals and crimes in action. When first entering this movie I thought it was going to be about mentally ill people who believed they have super powers and ran around in costumes thinking they could save the world. In reality the film was much more. These “heroes” are ordinary people who typically hold ordinary jobs and decide to spend their nights and off hours helping those in need. Not only to they try and deter crimes happening at that moment but they also bring necessities like food, water, basic clothes, and toiletries to homeless people and those less fortunate. During the Q&A after the film some heroes in attendance spoke about talking to communities to raise awareness regarding crime in their areas.

There are different organizations across the country that recruit aspiring heroes. Often these groups will meet up with each other for conventions but for the most part they do their own thing in their respective areas. Most of these people had rough upbringings or they were personally exposed to a crime and have decided it is their duty to help out. A New York City superhero named Zimmer stated a statistic that the NYPD has only 3 to 9 men on duty in an area of 60,000 residents. Whether this is a true stat or not the thought is appalling and although the police do not usually recognize the superheroes, they do what they can to help.

Barnett does a great job understanding and following these people and their lives in both an intimate way but also an explorative way. What these self-proclaimed superheroes do is admirable and dangerous. Learning and understanding what they do and why they choose to put their lives at risk for the well being of others is fascinating and beautiful. As a subculture that I had never previously heard of, real life superheroes are passionate and truly wonderful people trying to do something better for their communities.

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2 Responses to “Superheroes: A Slamdance Hit”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I believe Zimmer was quoting from the Village Voice series “NYPD Tapes”, specifically the 81st Precinct.

    “On any given shift, a third of the officers have the day off. Others have time off for other purposes, are on vacation, or are ill.

    Plus, officers are constantly pulled away from their patrol duties to man parades, to work security at police headquarters, to write tickets for a special effort—like getting motorists to stop talking on their cell phones—and for many other reasons.

    And they are pulled away to process arrests, transfer prisoners to central booking, meet with the district attorney, and babysit injured or sick prisoners at the hospital.

    As a result, a typical day in the 81st Precinct had only three to nine officers patrolling the streets in an area of more than 60,000 people.”

  2. Z Says:

    You are indeed right, he was.

    Everyone should hear about the NYPD tapes article. It’s a damn shame, and that kind of police absenteeism is what we have to work with in the New York Initiative.

    I want to give a shout out to our tech and medical officer, Zimmer, for being the logic and the face in the Slamdance festival.

    The future is looking bright, bud.