COCOTIQUE celebrates Nefertite Nguvu on her debut feature film In The Morning. With a cast of familiar faces and even familiar topics set in New York City, In The Morning is not to be missed. Nguvu, a graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, has worked with Queen Latifah and CoverGirl and is truly dedicated to her craft. We had the opportunity to speak with the award winning filmmaker about her latest film.
Tell us about IN THE MORNING.
In The Morning is a feature film about love, its inevitable change and its decline. This film charts the emotional anatomy of the lives, loves, infidelities, and enduring friendships of a group of inter-connected New Yorkers over the course of one day. It also explores the ever-changing nature of romantic love, the profound power of self-love and self-actualization.
What was the inspiration behind the film?
Quite simply, I was inspired by the women in my life! I wanted to make a film that reflected and honored the women I know. In The Morning is my love letter to women who are beautiful, smart, elegant, vulnerable, sensitive, complex, Black women who don’t often get to see themselves in movies.
This film explores the lives of friends, couples and love — how would you describe the main characters?
I’d describe the main characters, Zuri and Leal as smart, stylish, fiercely articulate, wonderful and complicated human beings.
What is the message of this film?
In The Morning explores the lives of beautiful, but imperfect people navigating their way through life and love challenges, without placing judgments on anyone. We are all human and therefore all flawed. Our message is really about a deepening connection, intimacy and empathy. More than anything else, I want our audience to see the true and deep reflections of themselves. If you feel emotionally invested in our film, if it makes you think about your own experiences, if you feel engaged by it, and it sparks conversation after, we’ve done our job!
What is love to you?
To quote one of my favorite characters in the film, Harper: “Love for me is the most profound reflection of who you are. It’s the digging and digging and pulling back all the layers until the purest form of who you are can roam free it’s vulnerability it’s being as naked as you can be, it’s joy beyond belief.”
What feelings did you share with the characters?
I’ve experienced much of what they all experience at different points in my life. My key point of connection with them, and what they all have in common is their vulnerability.
How did you assemble your team of producers, set designers and costume designers to complete your labor of love?
I worked with many of my collaborators on this film previously on other projects, so in many ways we were already a film family. I was fortunate enough to work with incredible artists that believed strongly in their work and in my vision.
How long did it take for your vision to come to fruition?
From script, to screen, to the film festival circuit and finally to wider distribution, it has been a five-year journey for In The Morning.
What expectations, if any, did you have of the film?
I expected to learn and grow from this process. That has certainly been true.
What challenges did you go through as a woman of color to get this film out?
It’s been full of challenges, from raising funds to shooting, to finding a way to connect our film to audiences beyond film festivals. However, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I’ve learned so much through this process and have accomplished things I never would have thought possible. I feel that I’ve become a better artist for it, for the patience it’s taught me, for the courage it’s given me, and for all that I’ve learned through my collaborations with the incredible people that leant their gifts to our film. This project has been about growth. I’m so happy that we stayed the course, and pushed through despite the challenges, we made a film that I’m so incredibly proud of in the process.
What advice would you give to other women who aspire to be filmmaker?
Often times I find the toughest thing for many of us is just to get started. I’d encourage all the filmmakers out there who may be struggling with confidence or over thinking the financial aspects to just get to work, start shooting, tell your story. Don’t get caught up in other people’s limitations and rules, this is all fluid. There is no one-way to do this. It’s important to tell our stories–this matters.
What are you most grateful for after making this film?
I’m most grateful for the connection this film has brought me and to other people who see themselves in our film. That’s been very meaningful to me.
What’s next for Nefertite Nguvu?
Next for me are two forthcoming short films that I’m currently in post-production with that will be released this Fall. One is entitled “The Last Two Lovers At The End Of The World.” I wrote and directed this as part of AT&T’s Hello Lab program. The other is called “Myself When I Am Real.”I wrote and directed this as a visiting artist for George Mason University’s Film Lab. They both cover uncharted territory for me as a director. I’m excited about them and can’t wait to share!