UnLonely Film Festival 7

Pier 35

Raina Yang

A senior Asian dancer from Chinatown lives her life with humor and lightness, even as loneliness and old age catch up with her.

Consider This

Watch this video to explore the film’s meaning and major themes a bit more. Talking with others about a shared arts experience can enrich our perspectives. Share your thoughts in the comment section, below!

Meet the Filmmaker

What is their why?

Raina Yang (she/her) is a Film Directing/Screenwriting MFA Candidate at Columbia University, as well as a Thousand Miles Project lab fellow. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Film and Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley. Formerly a nonfiction writer and a journalist, she has published in various magazines and newspapers. Since becoming a filmmaker, she has written, directed, and edited three short films featuring Asian stories and voices, as well as short documentaries featuring Asian artists. Raina regularly conducts field research and interviews in different communities, striving to tell stories that interweave with lived experiences. She seeks to explore the fluidity of social definitions and to make an impact on the real world through her creative works.

“On the Christmas Eve of 2021, with my family across the ocean and my closest friends in quarantine, I wandered on the dark streets alone and thought about the story I was working on, Pier 35. I wrote the story after interviewing Chinatown seniors — including Margaret, our lead cast. That evening, however, made me wonder if the story is really about me, about everyone, about the inevitable loneliness we all face in life.

In some sense, the protagonist’s loneliness is not about her family not being able to join her for dinner, nor is it about the dancers each leaving her and returning to their own families. Rather, the loneliness she faces is shared by all of us, regardless of age, gender, race, or life circumstances. And the question I hope to ask through this film is, how do we live with this ineluctable and universal loneliness?

Our protagonist always tries her best to connect with others, and when left alone, she smiles and walks on. There is an energy within her that carries her on through the loneliness of life. It comes from her genuine effort, partly through her dance and teaching, to immerse herself in something bigger than her immediate life circumstances. And, I somehow thought, that this transcendental energy is what warms us on wintry nights, as we stargaze through the window, at something so deep and distant that it breaks our heart and then scatters it as stardust.”

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