AFI DOCS: Loira Limbal on THROUGH THE NIGHT – American Film Institute



“‘A country without documentary cinema is like a family without a photo album.’ That quote by Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman best encapsulates my feelings on the importance of documentary cinema.”-Loira Limbal, director of THROUGH THE NIGHT

Any working parent can tell you how vital childcare providers are to their lives. As America’s economy requires more parents working multiple jobs or the nightshift, the need for 24-hour childcare is critical. THROUGH THE NIGHT shares an intimate portrait of the struggle and bond between two working mothers and their childcare provider. The film is screening at AFI DOCS 2020 through July 21. Get ticket here.

For inspiration, THROUGH THE NIGHT director Limbal cites her mother, her neighborhood and her children, “There is so much beauty and complexity in my community and I have a deep desire to make work that reflects that back to the world. I also drew a lot of inspiration from Kathleen Collins, Toni Morrison and Carrie Mae Weems. In some ways, their work gave me permission to make a subtle film about love and the interior lives of women of color.”

Growing up, Limbal says sitters would cancel and family would flake, and her mother, who didn’t have paid time off, “was often forced to make the impossible decision of leaving me, her 9-year-old, home alone to take care of my infant sister. While that may sound shocking, you should know that my mother was devoted, hard-working and above all incredibly loving. She was a great mother. She just didn’t have many options.”

And thirty years later, mothers are facing the same impossible decisions.

After finding an article about the daycare featured in the film, Limbal says she became obsessed with making a documentary about the community, “What I read was so similar to my own experience, my mother’s and that of so many other working class Black and Latinx women that I know.”

Before THROUGH THE NIGHT, Limbal had made one longform feature and has since worked as a field builder in the documentary space, advocating for the needs and visions of other filmmakers of color. “I had gotten very comfortable with believing in the work of others. Believing in myself and my own work was much more challenging.”

Limbal says she hopes her film will add to the national conversation around issues affecting working class families, as well as the working poor, by centering the experiences of women and children of color – and that women of color feel seen and affirmed. “Our goal is to generate a space for dialogue, community, and action around the issues covered in the film, the experience of single working mothers of color and the gaze through which the film was created to counter the dominant tropes about the lives of women of color.”

The film is screening at AFI DOCS 2020 through July 21. Get ticket here.

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