What a difference three years have made for Nefertite Nguvu. Only 36 months ago, she was working at an established movie production company making good money directing other people’s films. And she loved her work.
That is, until the day her boss gave her an ultimatum…
In between contract jobs with her company, Nguvu also had been working tirelessly on the screenplay for her own independent film project, “In the Morning.” Nguvu had chosen the cast, scouted locations, hired a film crew, exhausted her savings, maxed out her credit cards, purchased equipment and set a start date to begin filming. “I just kinda threw everything I had behind this film,” said Nguvu.
But as luck would have it, on the very same day it was all supposed to go down, her supervisor called her and said he needed her to start another job for him. He said, “Listen, either you be here where I need you to be, or this is where we part ways.”
Nguvu took a deep breath. And walked away.
Today, she is preparing for the big debut screening of her film In the Morning, opening Saturday, March 28, at BAM Rose Cinemas.
She bristles with excitement as she recounts how far she has come. However, she will tell you the journey was not easy: It was a journey that required an enormous amount of faith, patience and money; it was a journey that called for a burning desire to not only direct her own story, but also direct the stories of the people, places and lives she knew, but saw rarely depicted on film.
“I felt that what is so often missing in so many films are the everyday stories of people of color,” said Nguvu. “So I wanted to tell our story.”
In the Morning is a colorful, funny, dialogue-driven movie about black women living in contemporary Brooklyn. Mildly reminiscent of a Woody Allen-style of filmmaking, the movie provides an intimate yet, at the same time, voyeuristic peek inside of three women characters, their relationships with men and how the choices each of the women make in their relationships guide their own self-discovery.
Nguvu says it’s not a film about “love” as much as it is about relationships (it’s only almost about love), so it’s not a romantic film. It’s more of a look inside the perfectly imperfect decisions women make surrounding life and love, all depicted by amazing, clever, creative and everyday people that live, work and play in Brooklyn.
“I don’t feel like people see and know the women like the ones I know in this film,” said Nguvu. “Because, yes, the character Harper (played by Kim Hill) is in an evening gown going to brunch, because [Hill] would actually do that.”
Nguvu points out, the fact the film was shot in eight short days was nothing short of miraculous. It was the post-production that was so painstakingly slow, which took almost two years: “There was an entire year in there where I wasn’t able to work on the film at all, because I had to take a job and save money,” said Nguvu. “It was this long process of just being patient and trusting it was going to happen. Everyone knew how much I had put into the film and had sacrificed and they were like, keep going; you have to do it.”
Two years and two editors later after filming, In the Morning was completed. The film was picked up and screened at the Urban World Film Festival in September 2014, and it has been fast-forward for Nguvu since.
Cinematographer and Producer Arthur Jafa—known for his work on films such as Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust’ (1992), Spike Lee’s ‘Crooklyn’ (1994), Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson’s ‘Audre Lorde: A Litany for Survival (1995), to name a few—lends his talents to the film. Actors De’Adre Aziza, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Hoji Fortuna, Jacky Ido, JoNell Kennedy, C.J. Lindsay, Numa Perrier, Kim Hill and Alzo Slade all star.
“I felt like, even if it didn’t work out, even if I was never able to finish the film or raise enough money, I could live with that, as long as I at least tried,” Nguvu said, reflecting on her journey. “What I couldn’t live with was not trying. I just didn’t want to look back and have regrets.”
What a difference three years has made for Nefertiti Nguvu. And trust, she has no regrets.
To purchase tickets for BAM’s March 28 showing of In the Morning, go here.