THE TREMBLING CITIES
New York has always been a city of immigrants. People come from all over the world to learn, explore, start new businesses, and reinvent themselves. But beyond that is what they give to the city itself.
But all too often in film and TV, immigrants are the villains, the “exotic” background, or just invisible. The main characters are mostly white, male Americans. Three Trembling Cities focuses on the characters left out of most film and TV shows, and show another part of the city that people don’t see on TV as often.
MEET OUR CHARACTERS
All of the main and supporting characters are immigrants, each coming from a different place and background.
Urmi, from Kolkata, struggles with her dissertation and her separation from her husband who’s still in India.
Babacar, from Senegal, works two jobs while trying to start his jewelry-making business.
Behrouz is an actor who hasn’t seen Tehran since his family left when he was a child. He wants to go back and reconnect with some part of his past.
Azin is an attorney and Behrouz’ sister. She’s finding it hard to live up to her parents’ expectations of a good daughter.
Ilona, from Hungary, is Urmi’s roommate. She’s just out of grad school and disillusioned with New York and America.
Dawit, one of Babacar’s roommates and coworkers, is just happy to be alive but is haunted by his ordeal as a refugee from Eritrea.
Our first season consists of 10 eight minute episodes. The episodes weave together the different plotlines of the characters, showing parallels and differences between their lives. Each episode also includes interviews with real immigrants.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
So maybe you’re wondering why I’m doing this – after all, I am a white male born and raised in New York. The truth is that I’ve always been attracted to the story of the outsider. My brother and I were raised by a single mom in the Bronx. And we had some very lean years. My brother was diagnosed as mentally multihandicapped. I was diagnosed with ADD and was in special education until the sixth grade. Those experiences showed me another side of the city. I could see how cold and mean it can be for people who don’t fit into the dominant culture.
But I also saw something else – how beautiful and unexpectedly generous other outsiders can be towards each other. And that, ultimately, is the point of Three Trembling Cities. To show not just the difficulties but also the wonders of being the outsider.
WHY THE WEB?
The web is how people are watching serialized stories. It’s the best way to reach the most people for the least cost, and it allows the viewer the most freedom to delve into the topic. We are already mixing fiction with interviews, and can post related content – the full interviews, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage with our cast, and more.
WHY THREE TREMBLING CITIES?
The title comes from E. B. White’s 1949 essay This is New York, a wonderful look at this complex and chaotic city. To paraphrase:
“The first city is of the native born, the second of the commuter. But the third… is 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, the city that is a goal… Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”