Writer-director Ekwa Msangi revealed the real-life story that inspired her new film Farewell Amor.

“The film takes place in New York City. It’s a story about a family that is reunited after 17 years, had been separated due to visa immigration issues, so at the top of the story they are reuniting for the first time after 17 years at JFK airport,” Msangi told uInterview’s Erik Meers. “And we follow the journey of them rediscovering one another, themselves, and one another and using dance as a tool to make those discoveries.”

The story is inspired by Msangi’s aunt and uncle who were married in the mid-90s.

“My uncle, soon after their wedding, my uncle got a student visa to come to the U.S. and came with every intention of bringing my aunt and my cousin right behind him, and to this day have been caught in this never ending cycle of visa applications and rejections, and applications and rejections, but are still hopeful that one day they will be reunited.”

Although her family members have not been able to reconnect in America, Msangi calls the movie a “what if story” for her aunt and uncle’s struggle.

“What if Auntie finally got her visa and that’s no longer the mountain that’s in front of them?” she asked. “Where do they begin at that point to meet each other? How do they begin to relate to each other at that point?”

The story is a relatable one for many families going through the immigration system in the United States, though the director said the story of immigrants coming to New York rarely focuses on African people.

“I love Spike Lee, and I love the movies, and that’s part of the reason I live in Brooklyn is because of Spike Lee’s films, but his films don’t tend to cover African people. Neither to Woody Allen‘s films,” Msangi said, laughing. “And so wanting to just kind of like create a little space. Those guys that you see selling incense and oils on the sidewalk, like who are these people really? Who is this cab driver?”

Part of the charm of the film is how Msangi and her Director of Photography Bruce Francis Cole were able to make ordinary moments in life look beautiful and unique.

“He was definitely my right-hand guy in terms of deciding and like really thinking about how to tell the inner story of these characters, wanting New York and Brooklyn in particular to be a character in the film, but also wanting to have each story, each person’s point of view, be unique, as the story is.”

The scene that resonated the most for Msangi?

“I really loved all of the intimacy scenes between Walter and Esther, in particular the first one, the first night that he arrives, and he walks in and she’s ready to go, and woo she’s been waiting. And not just because it’s a sex scene or it’s a non-sex scene, but just like the tension and the carefulness at that point especially they’re still trying to be careful with each other,” the director said.

She added, “But, more so than that, the celebration of just seeing two consenting African adults having some sort of intimacy on screen, which is certainly not something that I’ve ever seen before. You never really get to see consensual intimacy between black people, African people in particular. And so, those scenes in general to me are just like such a victory to me that I was able to include that in my film.”

 

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