Last night, I went with a friend from college to MoMA Film for the world premiere of Your Day is My Night, a documentary/experimental film by Lynne Sachs about “shift-bed” apartments in Chinatown. The characters told vignettes about their lives; meanwhile, a new tenant moves into a crowded apartment with Asian immigrants in an effort to experience a different way of life. The producer, crew, and actors were present for the premiere and held a Q&A session following the film.
The film gave an intimate view of what lives are like for some immigrants living in Chinatown. It was thought-provoking to see another neighborhood in my fair city so different, but so similar, to what I see every day. Memorable moments included the frustrations of learning the subway system in a new language, the joys of finding a comfort food from home in a new country, sharing stories in a crowded kitchen, the reasons behind one man’s mattress collection. One theme in the film was the contrast between the immigrants’ memories of their struggles in China and their successes in America; although they live in crowded apartments, sharing beds and small living spaces, they feel they live the good life. While sharing a bed with a stranger may not seem like “making it” to some, it is overall, quality of life in America is preferable to live in their homeland.
Something I’d like to explore in another post is, what does “home” mean? What is “success”?
As a side note and something I feel I must mention as a big fan of MoMA: if you are a CUNY or SUNY student, you can use your current student ID to get in for free. If you are not a student but a frequent visitor, MoMA membership is a good deal. The basic level of membership is less than the full price of four admission tickets, so if you visit MoMA at least four times a year, it is cheaper to be a member. I’ve been there twice in 2013 already and I definitely will keep tabs on the film schedule and make sure I catch more films like this.