Through the Night
One mother explains in Loira Limbal’s documentary Through The Night, “You don’t think about overnight childcare until you have to use it”. Evidently, the world has shone a glaring light on the most undervalued and essential workers in our society. This compassionate and tenderly crafted film helps us understand its tolls.
Through The Night follows the married team, Delores “Nunu” Hogan and Patrick Hogan, and their 24-hour daycare in New Rochelle, New York. Here, Nunu constantly provides care for the children of those who also work into the night. The camera glides along the walls which are swarming with tacked up photographs of children from their 22 years in operation. Both the emotional toll and physical strain of working around the clock is palpable. As the children sleep Nunu Swiffers the floor to reset for tomorrow. Malika Zouhali-Worrall’s wonderful editing demonstrates the continual clutter and the inability to rest as the demands of the job refuse to subsist.
Limbal’s directorial debut demonstrates a deep investment in her subjects. The burdens of adulthood trickle into the chatter of the children. As the little ones go down for a nap they endearingly compare how long their mothers have been working, revel over the characters in Incredibles Two, or announce things like, “I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to pay the rent and the bills and everything.” They are already cognisant of the pressures of the world in which they will grow up. The power of the film is that though it predominantly focuses its lens within the confines of the daycare centre, the overbearing structure of the external world is implied, allowing thoughtful interrogation.
Through the Night begins with a Hisham Matar quote: “I suppose that is what we want from our mothers to maintain the world and, even if it is a lie, to proceed as though the world could be maintained”. It lingers with the audience and provides the blueprint to process Nunu’s endless generosity. You cannot pour from an empty cup and yet our subject finds a way to continually give in spite of her chronic pain and sleepless nights. Limbal’s feature evokes the fragility of our world and sheds light on the undervalued hidden figures who keep it running.
Through the Night does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Tribeca Film Festival 2020 coverage here.