Nefertite Nguvu's In The Morning is a New York movie, the kind where attractive, intelligent people philosophize and, mostly, talk about their love lives. Like a Woody Allen or Whit Stillman movie, but set in Brooklyn among a fracturing group of 30-somethings.
Although Nguvu has been involved in the film industry for a long time, this is her first feature film. Shot over eight days in 2012, and largely financed through Kickstarter and her own pocket, the post-production process then took almost two years.
She didn't have money for a casting agent, so found her actors by word of mouth - adding to the sense of a communal effort. And during some trying times she received support from a community of African American independent filmmakers, including Ava DuVernay of Selma fame.
"I'm a huge fan of Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen," says Nguvu, who notes that Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters are two of her favorite films. "But I don't ever really get to see films like that with people that look like me in them. I wanted to make a film that had those elements, a verbose, intense ensemble piece that translated into our cultural space."
The 75-minute movie follows nine characters, all of whom are going through intensive transitions. Each couple seems on the verge of breaking up, or already has. The leading lady, played by Kim Hill, is about to depart New York for Brazil and is attempting to say goodbye to her old life and friends. (In style, too: She shows up to brunch in a slinky evening gown.) The sweeping gentrification of North Brooklyn plays out in the background, an occasionally mentioned societal counterpart to their changing personal lives.
"I love love stories but it's not really very often that movies deal with the reality of what love and relationships are really like for people in their thirties," says Nguvu. "There are all these romantic fairy tales - which are great and I love to escape too - but I wanted to create a film that was really about negotiating relationships [at this stage of life]."
Reelblack, the Philly-based film production and promotion company, in partnership with Black Star film festival, will host a screening of In The Morning at the International House, 3701 Chestnut St., on Tuesday at 7 p.m. A Q&A with Nguvu and Hill will follow. Admission is $10.
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