Some films remain forever embedded in your psyche and stick with you long after the final credits roll. Writer/director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s searing short story Haven is exactly this type of film. In a few short minutes, Haven hones in on the beauty and horrors of black girlhood — tackling a subject that is often buried in the black community. After the film’s premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, I chatted with Fyffe-Marshall and Haven executive producer Tamar Bird about the film, its perfect casting and why it’s so important to tell painful stories.
The idea for Haven was sparked by a conversation that Fyffe-Marshall had one day with her director of photography. “My DP Jordan Oram (Drake’s “God’s Plan”) had shown me another film, and it was about two people in a room,” she remembered. “So he sparked something in me. I thought, ‘What’s something that as black women we don’t see a lot of on TV?’ For me, it was a black daughter getting her hair done. That’s something that nearly all black women went through at least once a week as a child. So, I started with that, and it just became Haven.”
Once the idea was formed, Fyffe-Marshall found the perfect collaborator in Bird, an actress and award-winning Canadian filmmaker. “Kelly and I have known each other for about six years,” Bird revealed. “When she presented this to me, I remember saying, ‘This is it. Don’t do anything to it, don’t change anything. This is perfect. This is what we need; this is what the world needs.’ From there we just wanted to make it as true to our childhoods as possible — that nostalgic feeling of listening to reggae music in the background and watching TV while you’re getting your hair done.”
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