Five Questions With... Finn O'Hara, Director of I LOVE YOUR F*CKING NAME

In the short documentary I LOVE YOUR F*CKING NAME, people discuss the trials and joys they have experienced because of their unusual or famous names.

We spoke with director Finn O'Hara about the film and what's in a name. Read more, and see the film in shorts block "It's All True," playing Thursday, June 21 at 9am!

FINN O'HARA

FINN O'HARA

NFF: How did you find all of the subjects? 

FINN: I started with a Craigslist ad as I wanted the casting process to be an unexpected exercise. I thought that if people saw the ad, or heard about it, they’d be drawn into the conversation I was looking to have about the complex relationship they had with their given name. If it piqued their interest, I knew I’d have an engaged participant.

NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration, and/or why you wanted to share these stories? 

FINN: Growing up in the rural country meant that my super Irish name marked me as being different. I didn’t want to be different, and I just wanted to fit in. I always had to explain my name, and I stored up a handful of responses to the same questions about my name that would help diffuse the attention my name brought me. I was shy, and didn’t like the attention that my name brought to me in social situations. I hated my name, and tried my best to hide it. But it was in University, in another town, that my name was actually well received. Random people would actually come up to me and say “Hey, I love your fucking name”, and it really took me by surprise. At that time in my life, I began to discover who I was and began to like myself. My name actually helped mark me as being different and it made me who I am.

So fast forward to a few years back when I realized that many people have gone though the same paths as me with their names, and I saw it as a way to explore how people grow with what they have, and love who they are.

NFF: Have you struggled at all with your own name? Or do you f*ing love your name?

FINN: See above! And oh yes, I love my fucking name.

NFF: Any particular challenges or surprises that came up during shooting?

FINN: We were really surprised by the level of sincerity and openness that our subjects gave me during their interview. It was the first time I had met all of them, and our conversations were candid and inspiring. 

Oh, and that Peter Pan actually dressed as Peter Pan for Halloween. That kept us in stitches for a while.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

FINN: I’m hoping that the Nantucket audiences take away from my film the fact that most of us share a common journey about personal acceptance and our unique space in the world. Some just have a steeper pitch to climb along that journey, and we can all learn through this film’s light hearted, empathetic conversation.

Oh, and if you’re going to have kids, spend a bit of time before you name your child. Say the whole name out loud, ask your friends, Google it. Do your homework and dodge a lifetime of regret.

Five Questions With... Donal Lardner Ward, Writer/Director of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH

WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH reveals the emotional life of four generations of the Copeland family. As Jean (Jeanne Tripplehorn) reckons with the consequences of an affair, her husband, Gordon (Damian Young), worries he’s falling prey to the same dementia that has afflicted his father, Theodore (Loudon Wainwright III). Their children, Otis (Noah Schnapp, Stranger Things) and Priscilla (Taylor Rose), navigate the pitfalls of first love and young adulthood, while the family’s 95-year-old matriarch, Vivian (Virginia Robinson), struggles to maintain control of the household in this comedic drama.

Read more with writer/director Donal Lardner Ward below, and join us for the WORLD PREMIERE of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH on Thurs, June 21 at 3:30pm and Sat, June 23 at 4:15pm!

DONAL LARDNER WARD

DONAL LARDNER WARD

NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film? 

DONAL: I was looking for something that could be shot on a micro budget, in a contained way, when I read my old friend, Betsy Crane’s, debut novel about a multigenerational family spinning out in different directions, in search of something they feared they’d lost or might never gain. I feel that sort of self-centered fear is endemic and destructive in contemporary life and I wanted to explore it. I also knew an increasing number of people who were dealing with taking care of elderly, sick parents and young children at the same time. What they call the “sandwich generation.” It’s a growing phenomenon, with people living longer and having kids later, and I hadn’t seen it addressed very much. By the time we finished the film I was living it. 

NFF:  The film depicts many different permutations and variations of love. What's your definition?

DONAL: Love is the particle that charges the atom of humanity, the connective tissue that gives our species dimension, shape, insulation against the chill of the great void. Without love, in all its forms, we drift apart, dissipate into nothingness.

NFF: How did Jeanne Tripplehorn become attached to the project? Had you worked together before?

DONAL: I met Jeanne through our mutual friend, Ben Stiller, many years ago. When I showed him the script for the film he thought she might be right for it. That was an understatement. 

NFF: Did you face any particular challenges or surprises while filming?

DONAL: We faced the age-old, dual challenge of independent filmmaking: lack of funds and time. There were a couple of things we missed in our lightning fast, 15-day schedule. However, by the time we organized reshoots at the beautiful old house that was our primary location, it had been sold and leveled, reduced to a pile of brown dirt. We had to recreate a section of the exterior on a shoestring. The enthusiastic commitment of our amazing cast and crew made the impossible possible. 

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

DONAL: I’m excited about screening at Nantucket because it’s a literary festival, a place where audiences appreciate thoughtful storytelling. The film is based on a novel, and books, and the concept of story, are central elements. I hope people come away from the film with a refreshed appreciation for the people and love they have in their lives. 

Five Questions With... Jeremiah Zagar, Director of WE THE ANIMALS

Adapted from the magical realist novel by Justin Torres, this Sundance award-winning film depicts three inseparable brothers growing up in a volatile household. Jeremiah Zagar brings the audience into intimate proximity with the boys, who watch, without always comprehending, the troubled relationship between their parents (Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand), and, in their own ways, emulate them. The perspective of the youngest son, Jonah (Evan Rosado), who recognizes that he is different from his brothers, takes center stage in this poetic and impressionist coming-of-age story of self-discovery.

Read more with director Jeremiah Zagar below, and see WE THE ANIMALS on Wed, June 20 at 8:30pm and/or Thurs, June 21 at 5:30pm!

JEREMIAH ZAGAR photo credit Mike Kamber

JEREMIAH ZAGAR
photo credit Mike Kamber

NFF: Can you talk a little about the challenge in adapting a book to film?

Jeremiah: After I read the book and Justin Torres said yes to having me adapt it for the screen, I brought on my friend Daniel Kitrosser, whom I’ve known since High School, to co-write the script as he had a very similar sexual experience in his upbringing to the young man in the book. Our starting point was the two of us sitting there and translating the novel directly to the screen. After participating in the Sundance Labs program, we realized there’s much more work to do. We remained as true as possible to the book, but we had to change certain things for it to work cinematically such as having the story take place over the course of one year instead of many years so the audience could have a deeper emotional connection with the characters.

NFF: How did you come to the idea of using animation?

Jeremiah: We needed to get into the interior mind of the young main character, Jonah, so at first, we just had shots of the still drawings on the page. After watching the first cut of the film, it became clear that it wasn’t enough to see these drawings laying flat on the screen. With my background being in animation and using it in my previous films, it was a go-to that made complete sense to me. Everyone involved loved the idea so we went with it.

NFF: How did you find your remarkable child actors, and what was it like building a family with them on set?

Jeremiah: We had an incredible Grassroots Casting Director Marlena Skrobe. We worked with her previously, as she was actually an intern at Public Record, the production company Jeremy Yaches and I are partners in.  Marlena went around the city and saw around one thousand kids for the film. But not only did we have to find three incredible actors, but three incredible actors that felt like brothers. I’d say finding them was less of a challenge and more of a miracle.

Once we found our cast, it was all about creating an environment on and off set where they could feel like they lived together. That was important to us as it created a beautiful bond between the actors that is intangible yet still present when watching the movie.

NFF: Did you face any challenges or surprises while filming?

Jeremiah: Everything was a challenge and a surprise.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

Jeremiah: I hear Nantucket is a beautiful place and I wish I could be there with you.

Five Questions With... Don Hardy, Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer of PICK OF THE LITTER

In PICK OF THE LITTER, Phil, Primrose, Potomac, Patriot, and Poppet are all in the running for a vitally important, life-changing job, but they’ll have to make it through intense training first. These five adorable puppies from the same litter are candidates to become guide dogs for the blind. Dana Nachman and Don Hardy follow them from birth through training to see which dogs have what it takes to be paired with one of the 500 applicants seeking their assistance, including Janet, waiting for her fourth dog, and Ron, waiting for his first. 

We spoke with Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer Don Hardy about all things puppies - read more with Don, and then bring your family to see PICK OF THE LITTER on Wed, June 20 at 1pm and/or Thurs, June 21 at 10am! 

DON HARDY

DON HARDY

NFF: How did you find/come to this story and meet the puppies? 

DON: My filmmaking partner Dana Nachman and I had known about organization Guide Dogs for the Blind for many years. We'd done a few stories on them during our time at the NBC affiliate in San Francisco in the early 2000s and always thought they would make for a good documentary. Years later, after we'd left television and made a few documentaries, the idea of doing something on guide dogs resurfaced and we thought it would be great to focus the film on a single litter of puppies. The nice folks from Guide Dogs for the Blind liked the concept and trusted us to as filmmakers so then we waited for the right moment to begin filming. Our litter was born on June 2nd, 2015. Poppet, Patriot, Primrose, Potomac and Phil.

NFF: Did you become attached to these dogs (and trainers/owners) during filming, or were you able to remain objective? 

DON: Definitely. We knew the dogs very well and they knew us. It's always a challenge to remain objective with your characters (human or canine) in documentaries, but I think we did a good job of following the stories as they unfolded and those twists and turns are seen in the film. It's a real roller-coaster ride. 

NFF: Are you still in touch with all of the owners (and dogs)?

DON: Yep. We're still in touch with everybody and many of the dogs and people featured in the film have come out to screenings help us share the story with audiences. Lots of other guide dogs in training have come out to see the film as well. It's great fun to see a theater full of dogs enjoying PICK OF THE LITTER.

NFF: Did filming/working with animals present any particular challenges you weren't anticipating?

DON: Yeah...a ton of them. The biggest challenge was keeping up with the dogs during the final weeks of training. They move quickly down the street and we had to develop a camera-rig that would allow us to move side-by-side with them and not impede their training process. 

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

DON: I've always heard great things about the Nantucket Film Festival and this is the first time I've had a film I directed selected to be part of the lineup. 

I hope audiences learn a bit more about these amazing dogs and the intense training they go through in order to take on the job of working with a person who is blind. Also, these days we are bombarded with negativity and it can feel hopeless at times. If audiences can sit back and enjoy this story of kindness and, in some small way, have their faith in the goodness of people restored for at least a couple hours I'll be happy.

Five Questions With... Jesse Peretz, Director of JULIET, NAKED

Annie (Rose Byrne) is in a rut. Her long-term boyfriend, Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), is more devoted to the music of faded singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) than he is to their relationship. When an unreleased demo of Tucker’s acclaimed 25-year-old album surfaces—prompting the reclusive artist's own reemergence—Annie and Duncan’s routine existence is upended in unpredictable ways. Based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, JULIET, NAKED is an insightful and charming romantic comedy.

We spoke with JULIET, NAKED director Jesse Peretz about the film. Read more with him below, and see the film on Thurs, June 21 at 1pm and/or Fri, June 22 at 3:34pm!

JESSE PERETZ

JESSE PERETZ

NFF: Can you talk about your inspiration for the film (visual or story-wise)?

Jesse: It is hard to be entering into the world of film adaptations of Nick Hornby novels without siting ABOUT A BOY and HIGH FIDELITY as key references. Both are movies I adore.  But I would also say that a key part of my life that I kept coming back to while we were developing this project was my days in the late ‘80s and beginning of the ‘90s when I was the bassist of the band The Lemonheads, and lived a life pretty ensconced in the pre-Nirvana punk/indie music scene.  This was the world that our character Tucker Crowe lived in back in his mythologized past, and so exploring those memories were key to defining who he was.

NFF: Which music artists or musical forms are you personally obsessed with?

Jesse: My musical obsessions over the years have bounced around between ‘60s soul (I remember being given a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrellalbum in 1977 that was spinning non-stop on my turntable for a year), Be Bop Jazz and Punk Rock.  In particular I would say that Elvis Costelloand Big Star are probably the artists I have clocked the most hours in my life consuming and re-consuming.  This is music that never gets old to me.

NFF: How did you decide or collaborate on the way the music in the film should sound

Jesse: Obviously for this film the music was of extra importance in the shaping of the film and the story, as who Tucker Crowe is/was as a musical figure is central to the story.  My friend (and musical collaborator on almost of my projects) Nathan Larson and I have a deep history of shared loved music (and being in bands that toured together), so we (along with our brilliant music supervisor, Maggie Philips) listened to a lot of music from the period and styles we thought Tucker Crowe would have lived and worked in, and narrowed in on what we found most compelling directions to follow.  But then we included a number of song writers in the process by putting out an appeal for original songs with these influences in mind, and saw what kind of songs came back.  We used the ones that we felt best served the vibe we were looking for - and of course the ones we liked the most.  Then Nathan and Ethan Hawke went and spent a bunch of days in the studio recording them, and putting their own spin and inspiration into the session.  It was a very exciting process, but also filled with dead ends that were often filled with frustration.

NFF: Did you face any challenges or surprises while filming?

Jesse: We shot the entire film in England (even though a bit of it takes place in New York State), and it was a shock for me to learn how strict the English were about sticking to a 10 hour day - something almost unheard of in the US.  I couldn’t imagine how we could responsibly go into each day knowing we would get what we need in those hours, but to my surprise it was not only completely doable (with a few exceptions) but also created a working environment that was mentally so much more focused, civil and calm.  People came to work having had a good night’s sleep and a life since we wrapped the afternoon before.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

Jesse: I am very excited to bring the film to the audience in Nantucket.  I hope that people connect with what I believe are universal themes of second chances and the struggles to conquer our fears we have failed the ones who need us most.  Mostly I hope that people find it both entertaining and emotionally honest.

Five Questions With... Steven Cantor, Director/Producer of BALLET NOW

We're screening an incredible documentary on the Monday of #NFF18 (Monday, June 25 at 12:15pm) and want to make sure you grab your tickets NOW for this not-to-be-missed special film.

BALLET NOW provides a rarely seen, unfiltered glimpse into the world of ballet and what it takes to create a groundbreaking, one-of-kind dance extravaganza. Featuring a diverse cast of world-class dancers from around the globe, the film follows New York City Ballet’s Prima Ballerina Tiler Peck as she unites the worlds of tap, hip-hop, ballet, and even clown artistry as the first female curator of The Music Center’s famed BalletNOW program. With less than a week to pull it all off, Tiler faces the mounting pressures of not only dancing in multiple pieces, but also producing and directing this high-profile event. The success of the performances rests squarely on her shoulders. Will she pull it off?

Read more with Director/Producer Steven Cantor below, and join us on the 25th!

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NFF: How did you come to this story, and/or how you were introduced to Tiler?

Steven: Tiler and I made a music video (Charlotte OC - Medicine Man) together last year and became friends, plus I was blown away by her talent and athleticism. My company, Stick Figure, has a partnership with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions to do a series of projects aimed at making the classical arts, in particular ballet, more accessible and inspirational to younger generations, so when Tiler was given this opportunity, she told me about it and it fit right in with that mission and became our first feature film together.

NFF: Can you talk about your own relationship to dance and the dance world?

Steven: My main relationship is that my daughter, Clara, is 14 and a student at SAB, the school of the New York City Ballet. She has been there since she was six. There’s no outside pressure on her or anything - she goes because she absolutely loves it. Tiler has been her favorite dancer since she started watching ballet at 3 or 4, so this whole relationship is kind of mind-blowing to her and has  made her think I’m a real cool dad. 

On another note, I made the film DANCER about the so-called “Bad boy of ballet”, Sergei Polunin, last year, so this is my second ballet themed film in a short period.

NFF: How did Elisabeth Moss become involved in Ballet Now?

Steven: Elisabeth was a ballet dancer growing up. In fact she attended the same school, Westside Dance, in L.A. as. Tiler. She is Tiler’s and my partner in this whole mission with Vulcan. And she has obviously a great relationship with HULU, so she was instrumental at bringing them on board at an early stage. She’s been a phenomenal partner - highly engaged and a creative force at every step of the production.

NFF: Did you face any challenges or surprises while filming?

Steven: Well, what is never said on screen is that while documenting Tiler’s monolithic effort to pull off this whole program in three days, we essentially had three days to film all the major building blocks of a feature film. On films in the past, I have often taken several years to accomplish the same task. So that was certainly an adventure.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket?

Steven: I love Nantucket. I have been visiting since I was a child and for the last ten years or so, my parents, my sister’s family and mine all rent a house on the island for a few weeks in August. It’s a time of extended family togetherness that we otherwise rarely get. Suffice to say, Nantucket has a special place in my heart. You can spot me riding my bike around town this August, probably with some kids behind me.

balletnow_hero.jpg

Five Questions With... Rory Kennedy, Director of TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON

If you missed #NFF17 documentary TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON, you're in luck - it opens in theaters this weekend!

In this breathtaking portrait, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (Last Days in Vietnam, NFF 2014) takes on the legendary Laird Hamilton (Riding Giants, NFF 2004), a maverick who has redefined big wave surfing over the past four decades. This visually resplendent film follows the movie-star handsome Hamilton in Hawaii, as he eagerly awaits El Niño-powered waves of an unprecedented size, prompting reflection on his lifelong drive to conquer unrideable waves. Buoyed by the memories of family and friends, the charismatic surfer relates the struggles of his early life, the refuge he found in the ocean, and the fearlessness that has served as a constant source of innovation—and controversy—in his career.

Read more with Rory below, and check out local screening opportunities near you!

Rory Kennedy at #NFF17

Rory Kennedy at #NFF17

NFF: How did you first become acquainted with and interested in Laird's life and story?

Rory: I was introduced to Laird through a mutual friend who thought throwing two people together who wouldn't normally know each other might be interesting. Although I didn't know much about surfing before, I grew up on the water and have an appreciation for the water, and I grew up with surf and ski movies - and we were surrounded by sports figures - making a film about an athlete in the water was not totally an unfamiliar idea.

NFF: The film is tonally a bit different from others you've made in the past, and focuses on a single subject rather than, for example, a larger group. Was that conscious departure for you as a filmmaker?

Rory: I'm equally passionate about whatever sparks my interest. You commit over a year of your life to the making of a film, so it's hard to work on a subject you don't care about. It took a little while to wrap my head around this particular story and give myself permission to make a "fun" film - but I couldn't let the idea go. I wasn't interested in a typical surf film - I was interested in Laird and his story and his motivations; what he's accomplished on the water and how he's revolutionized the sport. I was curious to explore what makes a person the best they can be.

NFF: Shooting in and around water is notoriously challenging. Can you talk a little about that process making this film?

Rory: It of course presents a new set of challenges - how do you know when the wave is coming, for example. It took some time to understand how waves work and how best to shoot them. I watched a lot of surf films, and I do ski, so I know you can be on the steepest run and it looks flat in pictures, so there's something about the angle of shooting that shapes how it looks. In our case shooting by helicopter was the best way to keep up with Laird.

NFF: What surprised you the most while you were making the film?

Rory: I think I didn't fully appreciate Laird's childhood and what he went through when he was younger. I now have a deeper appreciation for his focus and passion - his personal journey is extraordinary.

NFF: What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the film?

Rory: I just hope people actually go to the theaters! You need to appreciate the awe and enormousness of the waves on a big screen - we made the film for that experience, so please support the film in theaters, and enjoy the ride and thrill in watching it that doesn't translate to a tv or computer screen. Check out our website for screening times and locations

take every wave: the life of laird hamilton

take every wave: the life of laird hamilton

#NFF17 In Review

We're taking a look back at all of the exciting films, events, panels, parties, sponsors, and more that happened at #NFF17! Relive your favorite memories below, and SAVE THE DATES FOR 2018: JUNE 20-25!

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Five Questions With... Ryan White, Director of THE KEEPERS

The second in our TV AND TALKS Series: From director Ryan White (NFF alum with The Case Against 8, Serena, Good Ol’ Freda) comes a new, riveting seven-part documentary series about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.

Sister Cathy Cesnik, a beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher in Baltimore, went missing on November 7, 1969. In the 1990s, one of Sister Cathy’s former students – a woman only known as “Jane Doe” – came forward to reveal her own harrowing story and disturbing details about Sister Cathy's case – but the truth still remained elusive. White pieces together a larger story that goes beyond the death of a beloved schoolteacher to encompass clergy abuse, repressed memories, and allegations of an extensive cover-up. The Keepers is a Netflix Original Documentary Series.

We're thrilled to present an episode of the series followed by a conversation with Ryan White and “Jane Doe” herself.

Read more with Ryan below, and join us for the screening and conversation on Sunday, June 25 at 11:45 am!

Ryan White

Ryan White

NFF: You have a personal connection to this material, correct? Could you tell us how the story came to you?

Ryan: My aunt went to the high school that is the epicenter of The Keepers. She was Sister Cathy's student and a classmate of Jane Doe. She told me about the story a few years ago and I went to Baltimore to meet Jane Doe. That's how it all began.

NFF: The "true crime" genre is having a bit of a renaissance - do you have thoughts about why that is?

Ryan: I think Americans are interested in justice, and they get particularly angry when they watch and experience these stories about injustice. If there's any common denominator  of all these true crime series that have gained popularity, I think they are all stories of injustice and a lack of accountability.

NFF: The story here is unbelievably difficult and complicated - did you have a hard time staying objective as a filmmaker?

Ryan: I had to distance myself sometimes from the anger -- anger over what was done to the children and anger about the amount of corruption that's kept these stories buried. But I was also constantly reminding myself that I didn't have to live the pain that my subjects did -- so the least I could do was be a part of having their truths brought to light.

NFF: When you originally started working on The Keepers, did you always envision it as a multi-part show? Or was it meant to be a shorter, more contained movie, like your previous work?

Ryan: We began The Keepers before Serial, The Jinx, or Making A Murderer had come out, so there wasn't really a model yet for the episodic true crime format. But once each of those came out, we realized we might have some more dimensional ways to tell The Keepers. It was really good timing to have a true crime story that seemed to have so many layers and a distributor felt deserved a longer format.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences will take away?

Ryan: It's my fourth documentary to play here, so I'm thrilled to be back. But mostly I'm excited that Jane Doe will be joining me on stage and talking about her experience. It will be her first public appearance since the series came out last month.

Five Questions With... Oscar-nominated Gabourey Sidibe, Director of THE TALE OF FOUR

We're so thrilled to host our Afternoon Tea Talk at #NFF17 on Sunday, June 25 at 2:15pm with Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe (Empire, Precious), who will be presenting her directorial debut, THE TALE OF FOUR

This multi-layered story inspired by Nina Simone’s “Four Women” spans one day in the lives of four different women connected by their quest for love, agency and redemption. Featuring Jussie Smollett (Empire) and Ledisi.

Gabourey’s directorial debut is part of Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology short film series, which works to cultivate and spotlight the voices of women behind the camera, in order to provide emerging female filmmakers with the support to realize their creative vision.

We spoke with Gabourey about her film - read more below, and join us for tea, treats, a screening and conversation on Sunday!

Gabourey Sidibe

Gabourey Sidibe

NFF: What peaked your interest in directing? Was it this story specifically, or had you been thinking about it for awhile? 

Gabourey: One of my producers, Kia Perry had the idea to adapt Nina Simone's song, Four Women, into a short film and she let me hear the song and I could see the entire story unfolding as I listened. Listening to this song, is what peaked the director in me. I had never thought about directing before that moment. 

NFF: Are there directors whose style you wanted to emulate, and/or directors who inspire you?

Gabourey: I'm inspired by many of the directors I've worked with like Sanna Hamri, Victoria Mahoney and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. I'm also inspired by directors I want to work with directors who change the way people of color see themselves like Ava DuVurnay and Dee Rees.

NFF: Were you familiar with the Nina Simone song prior to the film and/or did you use it for inspiration in any way while you were preparing?

Gabourey: I'd never heard the song before the idea of turning it into a film but while prepping the film, I listened to the song over and over and googled Nina Simone performances pretty much non stop because we wanted the world of the film to feel and look as much like a world Nina Simone would fit into as possible. We wanted the film to feel the way Miss Simone's made us feel with her music. 

NFF: What surprised or challenged you the most while you were making the film?

Gabourey: What surprised me is how much I loved directing. How much I loved making decisions about everything. Big decisions from how a love scene should be shot, to small decisions like the color of nail polish on a teenagers hand. They are both really important decisions to make because every decision drives the entire story forward.  

NFF: Why are you excited to show the film in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences will take away?

Gabourey: I'm so excited to show the film in Nantucket! For one, I've always wanted to visit Nantucket. Among other locations, I've planned many excursions and weekend trips to Nantucket in computer class when I was a broke teenager in high school who obviously couldn't afford to go on an actual trip at all. I've always felt drawn to the beauty and serenity of Nantucket and finally I get to visit it in the most amazing way! Through my film! Through art.  And what my art is intending to do, is to encourage audiences to walk away feeling a greater connection to the humanity, the sensitivity and the grace of the quiet struggles our neighbor shoulder.  By telling the stories of these four women Nina Simone sang about, we are honoring Nina, we honor our mothers, our communities and ourselves. We hope to encourage the audience to do the same after watching our film.