There are stories about immigrants. There are stories about Los Angeles. There are stories about families, about women, about rites of passage. And then, there’s What To Bring To America, a story about all of that, and more.
When I first read the script, I instantly knew I had to help bring it to the screen. While the subject matter of female genital cutting in the U.S. certainly both caught me off guard and captivated me, it was the family dynamics between the three generations of women that reeled me in. How Helen struggles with her mother, with traditions, and how she tries to find her own place in the world hit home with me. As an international student who has lived abroad for the past eight years, and someone who feels foreign within his home country, defining identity has been a long-time struggle of mine.
But what fascinated me most about What to Bring to America is the infinite amount of love between the three women in this story. It would be easy to see the grandmother Sara as a strict matriarch, but everything she does for her daughter and grand- daughter is out of love. Exploring, understanding, discovering, and experimenting with that loving relationship never ceases to fuel my desire to make this film.
Ethiopian writer Tadious Odissu crafted an honest, powerful, and intimate tale with a controversial issue as its backdrop, and I feel very honored to have directed it.
– Christophe Nassif, Director
Los Angeles, January 2011