What are parents to do when they need to work long shifts or multiple jobs? Through the Night by documentary director Loira Limbal takes us into a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, New York. There Deloris (Nunu) Hogan and her husband Patrick care day and night for several children up to 12 years old.
We see the day care through a good part of the year. We see bits of Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving Christmas, spring, and summer. There is a lot of cooking, cleaning, playing, helping with homework, comforting planting vegetables. Since it is around the clock care, it has no end. Nunu has been at this for 22 years. She and her husband are very much in sync with all that has to happen to care for these children. But it has a cost. Nunu and Patrick don’t get time away. They often manage on minimal sleep. The question arises as to who takes care of the caregivers. As Nunu says in the film, “We need our spirits lifted up too.”
The vulnerability of the situation becomes clear in the last 15 minutes of the film, when Nunu experiences a medical emergency. How will the center continue if something happens to her? The film was made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the film’s website quotes Nunu as saying, “We are staying open until they shut us down because our parents need us. It is a little bit scary because every person who walks in could bring in COVID-19.”
While this film focuses on the day care, it does not ignore the root problem that underlies this need. There are many people who work multiple jobs and late shifts that makes it difficult to find day care for their children. One mother we meet has three jobs, none of them over 29 hours a week (to avoid having to provide health insurance). There is little or no governmental help for those trying to provide for their children.
The film itself is light on activism. It shows us the dilemma that parents face and the need for such caregivers. The film’s website (https://www.throughthenightfilm.com/) offers a variety of resources for parents and caregivers as well as a link to make donations to establish more such daycare centers.
Through the Night is available on virtual cinema through local arthouses.