The latest chapter in director Nina Davenport’s autobiographical work, FIRST COMES LOVE chronicles her journey to motherhood and beyond. In the 2000 HBO documentary “Always a Bridesmaid,” she drew on her job as a wedding videographer and fraught relationship with a noncommittal boyfriend to probe her generation’s anxieties about tying the knot. Now, in this bracingly honest, often hilarious and ultimately moving film, she examines solo parenthood.
Single and entering her 40s, Nina Davenport wonders if she should give up on finding “Mr. Right” and figure out how to have a baby on her own. She asks her gay friend Eric for his sperm and enlists best friend Amy, who has been “together in the trenches of New York City dating” with her, to be her birth partner. Amy doesn’t want kids herself, and becomes the perfect foil for Davenport throughout the film, helping her tackle parenthood in humorous and touching scenes. Davenport also engages a host of other friends to become a much-needed support system after she gets pregnant on her first crack at in vitro fertilization.
While pregnant, she begins seriously dating John, a film critic, who becomes a crucial part of her ad hoc family. FIRST COMES LOVE shows how becoming a parental figure affects John, Amy and Eric in different and surprising ways. Davenport embraces motherhood while wrestling with the recent death of her own mother, who had been her emotional rock and serves as a moving reminder of the past and the lasting power of love throughout the film.
In her mother’s absence, Davenport begins to deal with the thornier relationship she has with her father. Eventually the documentary reveals his own childhood experiences, which influenced how he approached fatherhood, accompanied by vivid home movies shot by her grandfather in the 1930s. Throughout, Davenport’s funny, insightful and candid voiceovers add another dimension to the story. Ultimately, FIRST COMES LOVE is a poignant homage to family, love and the power of cinema.
FIRST COMES LOVE premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and is playing the festival circuit throughout 2013. Davenport’s first HBO documentary, “Always a Bridesmaid,” will be available on HBO GO this July 19 through July 18, 2014.
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FIRST COMES LOVE was directed, produced, written, filmed and edited by Nina Davenport; associate editor, M. Emily MacKenzie; music by Ilan Isakov; consulting editor, Mona Davis. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.