MORNING GLORY, 26min., USA, Drama
Directed by Hannah Chamberlain Conway
A woman living with enormous loss, and a mysterious room full of plants, has her isolated existence punctuated by a maintenance worker who arrives to fix her TV. They spend a life changing day together, as they enter a space of ruthless honesty, where lies and performances are no longer needed, and transformation is possible.
Pregnancy, reproduction, birth, all are acts of creation that women feel both inspired and haunted by. Reproductive difficulties are an element of millions of women’s lives, yet they remain a taboo topic, only recently discussed in public forums at all. Women’s reproductive capabilities have put us at the center of a maelstrom of cultural and societal issues-- abortion, miscarriages, infertility issues. The accompanying emotions surrounding infertility and miscarriages are kept secret, thought to be too shameful to discuss.
Morning Glory dives straight to the core; exploring the shame, honesty, and shadowy, confusing thoughts and feelings many women, including Monica, the lead character, have kept buried deep within them. Morning Glory aims to bring some of these subterranean experiences to the surface and to begin a conversation about the grief surrounding the loss of pregnancies and how this trauma is often sublimated. The film explores the conflicting emotions, feelings of longing and guilt, and the duality of life and death that accompany fertility struggles. At the same time, through the character of the maintenance worker, the film asks questions about regret, how our choices and desires haunt us, and what we’re willing to do to get the thing we desire. What does it mean to try for something, to reach for something when it causes destruction? Can we create new lives for ourselves while honoring what we have lost? What happens when the doors are opened, and we let our guilt and fear out? Are the lines between life and death really as concrete as we think they are? Is transformation possible after being consumed by grief, regret, and longing? Morning Glory is about the mutual dependence of these many different dualities: Life/death, pleasure/suffering, regret/hope, and the possibility of transformation.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I have been interested in women's relationship with our reproductive abilities for a long time. My inspiration for the script came from a conversation I had with a friend of mine who was having a tremendously difficult time getting pregnant. She was having all these complicated feelings about her body; she said she felt like she was at war with her body, and she had started to make little pieces of jewelry that represented her reproductive organs. I found this fascinating, and had the idea of a solitary woman who turns her maternal instincts towards a large collection of plants, and started work on the script shortly after this. For me, art is about exploration, and in Morning Glory I wanted to explore a woman's relationship to herself and her body and her life after she has experienced so much loss.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I had the idea in 2019, and then over the course of the pandemic I wrote the script, and then once things opened back up again I began pre-production and we shot in 2022.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
A big obstacle in completing the film was the location of the house we shot in. Our producer, Matthew Goriachovsky, found it to rent for very cheap which we were excited about initially. It turned out that many people lived in this house who would come and go throughout the day and didn't understand what was going on in their house. We were of course on a very tight schedule and budget so this was a difficult surprise!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was nervous to watch the video but once I did I felt very grateful to everyone for taking the film seriously and really thinking deeply about it. It's a short film that I knew wouldn't appeal to everyone, so I felt honored that all of the panelists gave it their attention and time.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I LOVED movies as a child and always wanted to be involved in making them. I didn't have any family or friends who worked in industry so I didn't realize how many jobs are available in making films, so I started out as an actor. I acted in the theater for several years before realizing that what I really wanted to do was write and direct. This was right before COVID, so I'm very excited to be able to be working and starting my career as a director now.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I was very into Hitchcock as a kid, so I've seen Rear Window and To Catch a Thief more times than I could count!
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I've been very happy with my festival experience so far but I would love it if, with these online festivals, there was some opportunity to meet some of the other participants; either through social media or a zoom meeting.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway has been so user friendly and helpful to me as a first time filmmaker. It is so streamlined and intuitive. I love it!
10. What is your favorite meal?
This is tough, but at the moment my favorite meal would probably be a really spicy, flavorful vegetable curry with lots of buttery na'an bread!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am in pre-production for my next short film! We shoot the first weekend of March.