Daybreak Express

Tribute D. A. Pennebaker

Shot in 1953, Daybreak Express is the first film D. A. Pennebaker ever made. In the opening frames, the dark outline of an aboveground subway train is silhouetted against the hazy orange glow of a morning sky. A beam of bright sun breaks through the horizon. Cutting his images to music by Duke Ellington, Pennebaker plays with light and reflection, speed and perspective. We see the train, and the New York cityscapes it passes by, through a variety of unexpected vantages and frames. The filmmaker’s eye and edit deliver a dramatic sense of movement, discovery, and possibility. It’s hard not to see the film as a metaphor for Pennebaker’s own dawning career.  ST



D. A. Pennebaker


D. A. Pennebaker


D. A. Pennebaker


D. A. Pennebaker

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

5 minutes