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Children of the Night

Mar 01, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Liza Mandelup

A day at Camp Sundown begins just after the last rays of the sun have disappeared from the horizon. Shielded by a cloak of darkness, campers flood the grounds to play soccer and drive Go-Karts. For these children, who suffer from a rare UV light-sensitivity, nocturnality is the norm. They are allergic to sunlight. They rarely see the light of day.

Sundown, directed by Liza Mandelup, is an intimate portrait of life in a short-lived haven for children with xeroderma pigmentosum. According to the National Library of Medicine, affected children develop a severe sunburn after spending just a few minutes in the sun. “Society is not set up for these kids to live a normal life,” Mandelup told The Atlantic. “They have to stay out of the sun for their entire lives. This camp is created so that for two weeks, these kids can feel like they’re normal. They wait all year for these two weeks. This is the best time of their lives.”

Ultimately, Mandelup said she “was inspired by the normalcy that someone can create from any situation.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.