By: Bobby Marvin
Filmmaker Janks Morton, director and producer of the critically acclaim films What Black Men Think and Men to Boys, now offers his latest project We Need to Talk: A Message for Our Daughters, a griping documentary detailing the traumatic effects of fatherless homes and strained relationships with men told by 10 African-American women from Chicago. One by one, each of them recounts experiences with hard decision making, resentment and finally redemption.
NEWSONE: What is the significance of We Need to Talk and how does it speak to black women?
Janks Morton: We Need to Talk is probably the first time in the history of black cinema, an exploration of the passion and the trauma that goes along with the life choices of black women. I think the reason why it’s doing so well and resonating around the country is [because] women are identifying with this film. They are able to see their life’s journey for the first time captured through the stories and the narratives of the women in this film.
NO: Why did you decide to produce this film?
JM: For years I worked around the issue of men and boys between What Black Men Think? and Men to Boys and then my book Why He Hates You. I kind of figured out I can build a nation of strong and positive men who think better about themselves, but that’s only building up half a nation. It has to encompass and really embrace the mantra of my organization, which is the restoration of the family.
NO: Some of the stories told by the women were very personal and in some cases very dark. What were some of the challenges for you while filming?
JM: You know that’s a great question. I filmed some great minds from Shelby Steele to Cornel West, just some real lofty names. And I’m not the average filmmaker where there’s a decorum of professional etiquette where you don’t engage with the subject and you let them tell their stories. Well, that’s not my approach. So the consequence to that approach is me being absolutely engaged and trying to work through the issues with these women. I broke down in tears twice that day. I never done that ever before.
NO: Would you say you matured as a father after making this film and interviewing
women who struggled with various relationships in the past?
JM: Yeah, I wasn’t able to put two and two together until I shot this movie…I had to drive back from Chicago to D.C. So I had 12 hours to reflect and understand what these women were saying and what it meant. And try to process it and integrate it into what I know about what it means to be a man and how to broaden my own horizons.