Taking the pressures of film distribution into her own hands, director Nefertite Nguvu released her award-winning romantic drama, "In the Morning," through Amazon, Xfinity Streampix and Vimeo's Video on Demand streaming platform today (April 20).
"In the Morning" depicts a day in the life of nine Black thirtysomethings in Brooklyn as they experience intertwining love and heartbreak that threatens to complicate their close friendships. The movie's mix of veteran and rising stars include Jacky Ido ("The Catch"), Emayatzy Corinealdi ("Miles Ahead"), De'Adre Aziza ("The Breaks") and JoNell Kennedy ("The Mentalist"). Featuring cinematography from prolific experimental filmmaker Arthur Jafa ("Daughters of the Dust"), "In the Morning" won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film when it debuted at the 2015 Urbanworld Film Festival. It went on to win a slate of other awards, including Best International Film at Italy's Tierra Di Sienna Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at Philadelphia's BlackStar Film Festival.
Nguvu raised funds via Kickstarter to support the film's distribution. As she explains in an email to Colorlines, poor deals from bigger studios and enthusiastic reception at screenings around the world confirmed her faith in independent distribution:
I had been in conversation with a few distributors and received offers, which I felt were either inequitable, or wouldn't give "In the Morning" a real shot at connecting with its audience. I honestly strongly considered taking one of them, just to say I had a distributor, as if that somehow validated the film. Traveling with the film across the country and abroad, playing to sold-out houses and winning multiple awards from New York City to Sienna, Italy, I realized our incredible audiences these past two years had already validated "In the Morning," and that I could not wait any longer hoping for the perfect distributor to come along. I got to work, did the research and realized how attainable it was, and set out on this path to take ownership of this process and connect the film with its audience.
Besides "In the Morning," Nguvu's projects include "Black America Again," an interview series based on Common's album of the same name in which the rapper talks to Black activists and artists like Harry Belafonte and Kasi Lemmons. Those episodes are available on her Vimeo page. Watch the trailer for "In the Morning" here.