Three Trembling Cities

A new web series captures what it means to be an immigrant in New York City

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a screening of Arthur Vince's Three Trembling Cities. The show stars Nandita Chandra (Falling Water) and Yacine Djoumbaye (lead in the 2016 Sundance-selected short Jungle).

The series title is a reference to an E.B. White quote:

There are roughly three New Yorks the New York of those who were born here‚Ķ the New York of the commuter and the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities, the greatest is the last‚ the city of final destination‚ Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.

Over the course of 10 episodes and 90 minutes, the story weaves together the narratives of a half dozen immigrants in New York. They struggle with universal issues like falling in love, realizing one's dreams, and finding one's place in the world.

But what separates the series is how it grounds its characters in real detail and specific heritages. They aren't just from Africa , they're from Eritrea and Senegal. Iranian immigrants aren't just Muslims in the US, they're conflicted about a homeland that expelled their parents and remains very much in transition. The show loves to dwell on the smaller moments, with dialogue that skillfully jumps from banter and sarcasm to bittersweet and touching.

what separates the series is how it grounds its characters in real detail and specific heritages

If you're in the NYC area, Arthur has another screening coming up Monday, October 24th at 7 p.m. at Lovecraft Bar (50 Ave. B, New York, NY). The series will available for streaming soon.

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