The New York Times
MARVA NABILI, an immigrant film maker from Iran, has written and directed “Nightsongs,” a fictional portrait of Chinese immigrants in New York.
Having spent several years living near and even working in Chinatown, she has compiled a haunting biography of “outsiders” trying to survive in a new environment. The slice-of-life details are depicted with the immediacy of a documentary using a hidden camera.
…Within a rather slight narrative framework – the language is mostly Chinese with English subtitles – Miss Nabili’s film enters the relatively closed community of the Chinese- American to gather representative images and vignettes. There is Mr. Fung living in his “migrant worker” quarters in Long Island and making the lonely train trip into Manhattan every Sunday morning. There are the women in the factory, pushing to reach production quotas while traveling vendors urge them to buy everything from floor mops to pantyhose.
And there is the Chinese-Vietnamese visitor, watching everything, rarely saying anything, sensing that tragedy may be imminent. Her journal entries to her husband are in the form of poems evoking heroic pasts and delicate sensibilities. They are clearly meant to provide dramatic contrasts to the dimness of the present…
Produced by Thomas Fucci “Nightsongs” has assembled a very talented cast from a variety of sources. — John J. O’Connor
“…It’s clearly put together with care and feeling and offers poignant insights into the adaptation problems of modern American immigrants…informative and often compelling in its tale of labor, education and culture-generation gaps. “ —Herb.
Nightsongs” is one of the revelations of this year’s Filmex…The film’s simple, cinema-verite presentation belies a complex interweaving of events and impressions in the woman’s immigration… it’s a memorable and haunting film.” —Richard Natale
LA Herald Examiner—
“…Nabili observes her human drama with the precision and detachment of a fine artist…on her taut canvas, she sketches our colorful, corrupted culture using the small details that add up to epiphanies…”
“For sensitivity and scope, this film by Iranian Marva Nabili…easily ranks among the strongest films about immigrants, from Wang’s “Chan is Missing” to Kazan’s “America America”. ..Every scene…makes the alienation and exploitation of foreigners in this country palpable. The film manages to construct a very complex social reality through its incredible detail and the nuances of the carefully crafted parallel plots. What is pleasing is that, although the film has a definite thesis, it also allows its humans ample room to breathe and act – a rare combination.” —Helen Knode
“Modern Oriental immigrants of every fashion are examined with style and precision in this fictional version of some very real problems. This is…modern America, its street life and the constant threat of intervention by the immigration authorities makes everyone’s lives taut and edgy. Teenagers join gangs, oldsters play mah-jongg, and everyone else works in the clothing factory… It’s sincere, unpatronizing and contains an uncommon share of truth…” —MD