Leaving home in the 21st century is a strange paradox. Even when we are alone, our access to technology means we are forever tied to our loved ones. Even when we are apart, we are still connected.
Sean Wang perfectly captures this experience in his short film, 3000 Miles, which documents his first year living alone in New York. We see almost nothing of Sean himself, and hear little of his voice. Instead, we hear snippets of voicemails left by his mother, living on the other side of the country in San Francisco. It’s an ingenious framing device, one that feels true to the experience of living in an exciting new city, where we often have so much fun we forget to call our parents. Wang’s slow-motion images of Manhattan (and its residents) are stunning, full of discovery of his new home.
Most of these messages will be familiar to any parent. Sean’s mother calls to ask what the weather is like, if he’s eating well, if he’s happy. But they’re given an extra poignancy by the turbulence of recent current events: she begs him to go home early on election night, but his photos of the marches that took place following President Trump’s election show he ignored that particular advice.
The most stirring moment comes when Sean takes a trip back home to see his parents. The footage (shot on an iPhone) is grainier and, in a nice nod to Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, the aspect ratio becomes smaller and more intimate. These moments – a family dinner, a moment of goofing off with a sibling – are less grandiose, but it is these moments that will endure long after the romance of living away has faded.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go and call our parents…
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DIRECTOR: Sean Wang
EDITOR: Sean Wang
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Sean Wang
SCORE: Brenton Vivian
SYNOPSIS: On July 5th, 2016, Sean moved across the country to work and live in New York City for one year. This is a personal documentary of his year, chronicled by voicemails left by his mom.