Brixton’s Ritzy cinema will host a special event on Saturday (13 November) to launch a film with deep and immediate relevance for many local people.
Described as “a tender portrait of titanic strength, love, and selflessness”, Through The Night is “the story of countless women in my community,” says director and producer Loira Limbal.
“It’s my mother’s story. It’s my own story.”
The film is a cinema verité portrait of three working mothers in New York, whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare centre: Shanona, working overnight shift as an essential worker at a hospital; Marisol, holding down three jobs to support her family; and Deloris who, for more than two decades, has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn.
The portrait of their lives and struggles through lockdown and economic exploitation is mirrored in those of many thousands of women in London.
“Through The Night is my love letter to single mothers and caregivers,” says African-Dominican Loira Limbal.
“I was raised by an amazing cast of Black and Latinx women who performed miraculous acts of resilience, creativity, and subversion on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately, when I look around at our popular culture, these women are rarely seen and when they do appear, they are represented in reductive ways that often amount to caricatures.
“My vision as a filmmaker is to flood our popular culture with beautifully complex portrayals of the lives of working-class women of colour so that we have new gazes and new ways of seeing ourselves.”
Following a highly successful film festival run across the United States, and on public broadcasting there, Together Films releases Through The Night in the UK on Friday.
“In the wake of the pandemic, many parents have struggled to balance childcare and paid employment, with a disproportionate burden placed on women,” Together Films says.
“It has been made abundantly clear that the role of caregivers within our communities is undervalued, and crucial.”
Through The Night, it says, showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid, and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented –– all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism, and capitalism.
“Whilst I want to shine a light on the many systemic problems in our society, I ultimately want to lift up the abundance of love and interdependence among the women, children, and families in our film and our communities,” says Loira Limbal.
The film focuses on three women:
Deloris Hogan, who, with Patrick Hogan, is a co-founder and primary care provider at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, New York.
Deloris and Patrick, known as “Nunu” and “Pop Pop” to the hundreds of children they have cared for over the years, continue to provide the safety net needed by so many working parents.
Marisol is a working mother whose children have grown up at Dee’s Tots. Her story is marked by the search for one reliable job in order to spend more time with her children who are now 10 and 14 years old. Marisol currently works six days a week for a supermarket supply company.
Shanona is an A&E chidren’s nurse whose own children have grown up at Dee’s Tots. She currently juggles the responsibilities of remote learning for her primary school age children while working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
In the US the film is the centre of a campaign to “care for caregivers’ by acting as a tool to support the work of organisations leading campaigns to improve the lives of caregivers, women of colour, and working families.
The campaign is also to “reframe mothering” as radical and subversive.
The Ritzy screening at 2pm on Saturday will be followed by a discussionwith three women and mothers about the film and the work they do to support mothers and caregivers:
Tokunbo Koiki, founder of Tokunbo’s Kitchen, Styled by Toks, and Ìyá ni wúrà, a book club celebrating Black mothers.
Nina Malone, founder of Dope Black Mums digital safe space, host of theDope Black Mums podcast and a dope Black mum to two children.
Coleen Mensa, lawyer and founder of the online platform Dear Black Mum.