Seven Questions with Nana Adwoa Frimpong

Nana Adwoa Frimpong is the director of Healing In Color. In a world where Black women are expected to be invulnerable to pain, five Black women participate in an art workshop to confront their personal struggles and explore healing through art.

1. Who are your film influencers?

I have been deeply influenced by the work of Nadine Labaki, Garrett Bradley, and Michaela Coel. I go back to all of their works often because of the soul and intentionality they imbue into what they do. You can feel it in every frame.

2. What are the toughest aspects of making a film today?

At this point in my life, the toughest aspect of making a film is giving myself dedicated time to create. In film school, we were constantly ideating and collaborating on new projects. Now that I’ve moved into full time work, I am not under the same timeline nor do I have the same obligation to personal projects that I once did. My desire has not waned, but how I approach creating has had to. I have a feeling I’ll be navigating this space my entire life and that’s okay.

3. Best advice you’ve received as a filmmaker?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to resist the urge (and at times explicit suggestion), to change the core of who I am and what I believe in to be successful in this industry. I think you do this by keeping good people around you and setting an intention for the type of artist you are. When you work from a space of “this is who I am” the world can’t help but to meet you there.

4. What does it mean to you to be a Black filmmaker or to create films with black stories or characters.

I did not grow up loving or embracing my Blackness. I had a lot of shame about the color of my skin and my identity as a Ghanaian-Canadian person. I never saw myself positively reflected anywhere, so it set me up to believe there was nothing inherently worthy about my identity. It has taken an intentional amount of unlearning and reclaiming to get to a point where I proudly own my identity as a filmmaker who is Black and makes films that center Black stories and characters. I take the responsibility very seriously. My obligation is to the little Black girl inside me that just wanted the space to grow, make mistakes, and be told that I was of value. Healing in Color is an affirmation to that girl.

5. What does it mean to you that your film is on Aspire TV and other platforms?

My team and I could not be more honored to have Healing in Color on Aspire TV. When I applied to film school back in 2019, I wrote about creating worlds for Black women that honored our glory and did not shy away from our struggles. To now have this platform three years later feels like the unfolding of that prayer.   

6. Advice you would give the next gen following you?

Prioritize your mind, body, and spirit. Protect it. Nobody else can or will do that for you. Brilliance is born out of rest.  Take your time. Be kind to yourself and others. Make mistakes and try again. Your artistry will be fueled by what you put into your life. Whenever you can, put in a lot of good. It will only feed you.

7. Are there any inspirational films, articles or books that you would recommend to go deeper into the topics and themes in your film?

Yes, I would say the following were inspirations for me as we created the film.

Film/TV: 

I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel

Time, Garrett Bradley

Alone, Garrett Bradley

Invisible Portraits, Oge Egbuonu

Home Videos, Jerrod Carmichael

Minding the Gap, Bing Liu

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel

Black Art: In the Absence of Light, Sam Pollard

Talks/Interviews: 

What will you tell your daughters about 2016?  TEDx. Chinaka Hodge.

Artists on the Future: Teresita Fernández and Sir David Adjaye

Michaela Coel: ‘If you don’t show it, it can be erased’ | British GQ

Articles:

Gerald, Casey. “The Black Art of Escape.”

hooks, bell. “The Oppositional Gaze.”

Morello, Jenni. “Addressing Trauma in Documentary Practice.”

Music: 

Crying is dead – mixtape by LiL Jodeci

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