Bucharest Below Ground

Bucharest Below Ground

Close-up look at how and why hundreds of homeless live in abandoned sewage pipes beneath the streets of Romania's bustling capital.

With a population of nearly two million, Bucharest is the most economically prosperous city in Romania. It is the nation’s capital and a major industrial center of Eastern Europe. Despite significant economic growth in the years following the Romanian Revolution of 1989, the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is still great.

This large-format audio slideshow by the Bombay Flying Club is a stark look at homelessness in Bucharest. The story examines the lives of several people who make their homes in abandoned heat and sewage pipes beneath the streets of this large, busy city. Marius Iordacha is a 31-year-old man who lives with his brother, mother and 5-year-old nephew in a hole crawling with rats and garbage. Iordacha’s neighbors are a group of young drug addicts, including Adam Andrei who says he has been sniffing glue for 15 years. An estimated 1500 people live this way in Bucharest with little means for improving their lives. This Dickensian scene represents Romania’s lost generation, and they all have strong stories to tell – about abuse, violence, economic disaster – in short, their secret and dark lives under the European capital. In addition to their voices, we also hear from Bogdan Bucico, who works for an NGO helping Romanian street children. The package is composed of striking you-are-there black-and-white photographs, audio narratives, and stirring natural sounds of the city.

Bombay Flying Club was established in 2005 by two students at the Danish School of Journalism. Photojournalist Poul Madsen and journalist Frederik Hoelge decided to spend 6 months as interns with the Indian Express in Bombay. During the following months they regularly found themselves reporting local news stories from the airstrip at the original Bombay Flying Club. A few months later they won a national short-documentary film award and the Bombay Flying Club Production House was born. In 2006 photojournalists Henrik Kastenskov and Poul Madsen produced their first web documentary about a suicide spate in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Their story won a second place in Best of Photojournalism that year. They decided to join forces. The group then quit filming to concentrate on developing flash journalism for the web. Their mission? “To produce mind blowing and innovative interactive narratives. BFC wants to challenge the established media and to take photojournalism a huge step further.”

Length: 10:00

Photography & Flash: Poul Madsen
Sound: Frederik Hoelge
Translation: Patricia Luputiu & Tea Vasilescu