Nefertite Nguvu’s “In the Morning” will screen at BAM’s New Voices in Black Cinema, Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m., and will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers and cast members.
Here’s what the ambitious, dynamic, young and gifted director had to share about making movies.
AmNews: What do you love about being a storyteller?
Nguvu: What I love most about being a storyteller is the opportunity it provides to connect deeply with other people. In light of all that’s happening in the world, having the ability to tell stories that explore our humanity is not something I take for granted.
What challenges did you face and overcome in making this feature film?
The first challenge was overcoming my own fear. I knew that making this film would be a huge undertaking, with so many possibilities to fail, and that was daunting. Instead of letting the fear paralyze me, I decided to let it fuel me. Most of the other challenges were related to budget and time, trying not to let the limitation of either compromise the vision of the film. We shot our film in eight days, then it took me two years to complete. Truthfully, the hardest part was not giving up. Patience and tenacity were my greatest challenges/lessons.
What do you value most about being a director?
What I value most about being a director is the process of collaborating with other artists. Writing is a tough and lonely part of the filmmaking process for me, but being on set, working with actors and creating with my comrade, the incredible cinematographer Arthur Jafa, is just thrilling. Having collaborators that are as passionate about the work as you are is a tremendous gift.
Who are your top three influences and why?
That’s such a tough question! My influences are vast and varied … From Ingmar Bergman to Toni Morrison, with many things in between … If I had to narrow it down to three, I’d say, first and foremost, my parents. They made art and culture an essential part of my upbringing.
Home for me was immersed in a world of Alice Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Miriam Makeba records, and a typical family outing was an Amiri Baraka or Sonia Sanchez poetry reading. My parents’ love of jazz, literature and poetry became my love, and is an essential part of who I am. They also instilled in me, early on, the belief that culture is a weapon and that art has the ability to transform.
That’s always stayed with me. Outside of my parents, I’d say my friend/mentor/hero/idol George C. Wolfe, the amazing playwright and director whom I love dearly, has had the biggest influence on me.
He is a brilliant artist, with a Herculean body of work, who aside from that is just a very funny, generous and amazing human being. Being around him always makes me want to dream bigger, be better and do more.
In New York City, where do you go to get re-energized?
Nothing keeps me more energized than being inspired. There’s never a shortage of that in New York City! My favorite source of inspiration to experience here is the theater. The emotional power and kinetic energy that can be generated by a good piece of theater is unparalleled. It invigorates me to no end.
Wider distribution plans are in the works for “In the Morning,” and I’m currently working on a short film project for hire that I’m really excited about. Good things are on the horizon!