Project UnLonely Films Season 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.”

Website / Instagram / Facebook

Join The Conversation

Can younger generations do more to support and connect with older individuals who may be isolated? Or has society shifted towards valuing money and career over compassion and care? How can we better reach out to those who are elderly and alone, and foster greater empathy and understanding for them?

11 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Beautiful story. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Beautiful and inspirational Christmas message. Thanks

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    i am 71 and i am so grateful for my younger friends, but it requires putting yourself out there all the time.
    and it is so worth it

    Reply
  4. Judy

    I so identify with this. I’m 76 physically in good shape and don’t lack friends or activities or busyness or a son/family/2 grands and yet and yet.. I don’t dwell on the past or feel bad and there’s much to be happy about. And yet and yet..what really is it all about? I really don’t get it.

    Reply
  5. Mary Schinhofe

    My reaction was not so much how younger people can do more to support older individuals, but rather the incredibly touching ending of this film. In just a few seconds, the old dancer remembers, tears up, and then smiles the tiniest of smiles, recognizing the joy of life as well as her loneliness and finds acceptance. Not only did I find it moving, I found a great deal of truth in it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Agree! That was the most touching part. We can find a moment of connection when we least expect it.

      Reply
  6. Judy Mcloughlin

    Empathy for each age group is important. Each is facing life challenges and lonely feelings. From young families that need support to the middle years of work, and trying to find purpose and balance. My young granddaughter , 7 years, told me she often feels alone at school.

    Reply
  7. Julia

    I loved this. It’s an essential truth, not just related to aging. We all need to be close to others. Most people are happy to make contact — just take the initiative, if you want to make contact, too. Go talk to them. Ask them to tell you about themselves. Any pretext will do.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I’m 77, just had a heart operation, a widow for 30 years, living alone, almost for the first time in my life. Daughter and granddaughters lived me for many years. The last 10 years I was taking care of everyone, made no new friends in a new area. I am feeling anxious, can I make new friends, where will I be living in 4,5,6 months? Will I get healthier, will my family visit more often? Will anyone make me a priority in their life. Not the most I important person in in their life..but where do I fit in? Do I whine too much, here or to others? I’m so unsure about everything.
      The movie was touching, but sad.

      Reply
  8. Sarah

    I loved this film. Thank you! I can identify with joy and loneliness intertwining. I see all the love, joy, enthusiasm, and creativity she carries within, and yet not always finding companions to share it with, or having loved ones around to share her full heart with. This happens at any age. There is a loneliness in unexpressed joy, in not having enough opportunities to express, in community, one’s creative spirit. The joy can diminish if not witnessed and shared, and sometimes the person diminishes as well. I see that she still shines brightly though, and kindles her own flames of joy in whatever ways she can, sometimes through reliving happy past memories. She keeps her own inner light on, and is present and available for opportunities to connect with others when they arise, and seeks them out as well when she can. Beautiful.

    Reply
  9. SC

    Beautiful film and moving comments above. So many authentic human moments in the film and in the protagonist’s experience and daily effort.

    Reply

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