I love going to see work by other filmmakers. I have been in love with film festivals since attending my very first in 2007 - The Spaghetti Junction Film Festival - in Atlanta, GA. This past Thursday however, my good friend and fellow Writer, Producer and Filmmaker, Danielle Mooney, invited me to take a quick drive down to Philly to see an indie feature called "In the Morning."
Written and Directed by Nefertiti Nguvu, this film was really good. It was equal parts thought provoking, emotionally impactful and cinematically beautiful. Those who know me know that I love a great romantic drama or comedy. This film had me laughing, crying, thinking and wide-eyed as I took it all in. I am a hopeless romantic and a self-professed failure at love (don't judge me). So this piece really allowed me to see some things. Not to mention, I didn't sit in my chair and produce the piece as it played out...so I KNEW from that alone, I was all in.
The story happens all in one day and follows a group of progressive and upwardly mobile African American friends. The narrative feature touched on the myriad of ways we define love for ourselves and others, fidelity, friendship, truth, sex, tough decisions, adultery and being a grown adult versus growing up. Perspectives were wielded all across the board and there really was a level of insight that could suit every emotional pallette! Even more exciting to me though was the visual story that was told. The colors, the filters, the shots, the moments and the way the Filmmaker didn't feel the need to use verbiage to express every sentiment. But instead did things visually and strategically. For example, the free spirit of the crew (former Black Eyed Peas front woman, Kim Hill as Harper) dressed in a way that said so much about her. Or the way the uptight friend (the cocoa and gorgeous JoNell Kennedy as Amara) was ever so polished and meticulous in all of her adorning details and lack there of in terms of her adornment. Or my favorite character (Cadence played by the award winning Emayatzy Corinealdi) was sexy but in a coordinately uncoordinated set of patterns and prints, which to me spoke to her ability to layer on the madnesss in her life. It all just went well as she allowed her story to "go there" and for her cinematographer Arthur Jafa ("Daughters of the Dust," "Crooklyn") to be the one to take it there with her.
After the screening, before we got back on the road for the two and a half hour ride home, we actually wound up having dinner with the filmmaker and costume designer. These ladies were not only beautiful, but they were so down-to-earth and fun, all while being so knowledgeable and open about the business, the process of doing the film, the many drafts, and all of the edits and cuts that it took to create what it is we saw. They spoke on everything from the LA thing to what distribution they were looking at. They talked about TV vs Film and being a full time creative - which means working and gigging in between personal projects such as this. It was just fun and emotional and funny and a space where a table full of women in this game, their specific roles notwithstanding, could commiserate and encourage and break bread with each other, without breaking each other down.
Basically, I won't give away the film, but I will say be sure to catch "In the Morning" at a film festival near you, or once it moves into V.O.D. (video on demand). Approach it with an open mind and heart and look for the slivers of you in the story that is told and untold...and then sit down and dialogue about it. The filmmaker said her impetus for the piece, and filmmaking as a whole, is to tell stories that she and her cohorts could relate to. In my opinion, the way to honor her work and effort is to allow the piece to encourage your engagement. Our stories are important and we keep them in demand by telling them! Not to mention I'm sure there are many times that the course of a day has set you up to be changed "In the Morning..."
I know this week's blog is a little different, but I like to tell you guys about awesome work and I also like to start convos. So if you've seen the piece, hit me up and comment and let me know your thoughts. If not, check it out and circle back! Either way, get out and see some films!!! Or make them!