‘Through The Night,’ An Audiovisual Ode To Latinx and Black Mothers

Through The Night Documentary BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Through The Night.

This year, Afro-Latina director Loira Limbal celebrated Mother’s Day with the premiere of her documentary ‘Through the Night,’ a cinema verité portrait of three working mothers in New York whose lives intersect in a 24-hour daycare center.

One mother works the night shift as an essential worker at a hospital; another works three jobs to support her family, and a third woman has cared for the children of parents who have nowhere else to turn for more than two decades.

“The film is a love letter to single mothers and caregivers. It elevates the voices and stories of women of color who are often invisibilized or pushed into the margins of our society,” said Limbal.

As The Guardian explained in its review of the documentary, ‘Through the Night’ advocates a restructuring of the U.S. economy and a “reorientation of values toward the often denigrated ‘women’s work.'”

Caregiving work, as Limbal sees it, is visionary – “there’s nothing small or safe about it, particularly in the context of being a Black person, an undocumented person, or a trans or queer person.” She pointed to a guiding quote by the African-American studies scholar Saidiya Hartman, that “care is the antidote to violence.” Tenderness served as Through the Night’s “north star,” said Limbal, both as a political value, “because I believe it to be radical when placed in the context of the lives of people of color,” and as an aesthetic mode, “because a lot of films on our communities, particularly in the documentary world, [focus] on the struggles and violence that we face. There are far fewer films just about everyday lives. And yes, we’re up against a lot, that’s important, but I think it’s equally important for us to see ourselves living.”

“Child care is necessary for parents—particularly mothers—to work and earn an income, yet it has become an increasingly crushing expense…Over the past two decades, the cost of child care has more than doubled, while wages have remained mostly stagnant,” writes the Center for American Progress in a 2019 report. The disparities are especially prevalent for Black mothers, who “are more likely to be in the labor force than mothers of any other race.”

Through The Night’ is undoubtedly an urgent portrait and a manifesto to the hard work of millions of women who keep the world going.