A hit on the festival circuit, Tanzanian-American filmmaker Ekwa Msangi’s feature directorial debut “Farewell Amor” tells the story of an Angolan immigrant who, after nearly two decades apart, is joined in the USA by his wife and daughter. Now, however, they are now practically strangers, sharing a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, and struggling to reconnect. Soon they discover a shared love of dance that may help them overcome the distance between them.
Father Walter (played by Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) has not moved on from his lover Linda (Nana Mensah), while his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) has found solace in religion, which doesn’t immediately register with him, although he does want to understand. Meanwhile, Esther and their daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson) are struggling to adapt to life in a new country, wondering if all the fracas that was involved in making the trip to the United States was worth the effort.
“I wanted to look at the gulf that can widen between loved ones who are separated, whether it be by immigration or any other means,” Msangi told IndieWire earlier this year. “How can they maintain that status and stay hopeful? But then also, what happens when they finally reconnect, and is it even possible? I’d love for audiences to step away thinking about these ideas as if they were the characters.”
A child of immigrants and born in Oakland to Fulbright scholar parents, the film is inspired by Msangi’s own family history. The circumstances depicted in the film should not be unfamiliar to anyone paying attention to more broader political influences; specifically the state apparatus dominant under colonialism, as well as the globalization that has devastated the global South.
“My aunt and uncle have remained married for 20+ years, and aside from only two years together, they’ve spent all of that time separated by visa immigration issues with my uncle in the USA and my aunt and cousin in Tanzania,” she said. “Despite the harsh effects that this has had on their family bond and personal lives, they refuse to let the relationship go. Hopeful that one day they will be reunited.”
“Farewell Amor” made its world premiere in competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim. Producer Huriyyah Muhammad won the Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award. IFC Films acquired North American rights to the film and will release it in theaters and on demand on December 11, 2020.
Check out the first trailer for “Farewell Amor,” available only on IndieWire, below.