What to Bring To America
Director: Christophe Nassif
Writer: Tadious Odissu
Producers: Ben Monie and Arthur Musah
Cinematographer: Katie Walker
Editor: Tao Ryan
Writer: Tadious Odissu
Producers: Ben Monie and Arthur Musah
Cinematographer: Katie Walker
Editor: Tao Ryan
On the eve of her 8 year-old daughter’s coming of age ceremony, Helen, an Ethiopian immigrant living in Los Angeles, travels to her husband’s workplace to share her doubts about getting the girl's genitals cut.
Web Site: www.whattobringtoamerica.com
Tadious Odissu, Writer
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Tadious Odissu came to the United States in 2004. He graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2008 and is currently studying Film and Television Production in the MFA program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Aware of the pain of female circumcision in Ethiopia, he was shocked to learn on his move to America for college that Ethiopian girls and women had to suffer from this tradition in the US too. This realization inspired the screenplay for What To Bring To America, 1 of 3 films chosen by the film school faculty to be made in Fall 2010 after a keenly competed selection process involving nearly a hundred scripts.
Christophe Nassif, Director
Christophe was born in the little Principality of Monaco, on the French Riviera. Half Italian, half Lebanese, yet a French citizen, he has grown in a multi-cultural mix on the Mediterranean. He is fluent in English, French, and Spanish. Christophe enters his third year in the MFA in Film &Television Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is the 2009-2010 recipient of the Jack Nicholson Directing Award and the Don Thompson Award in Cinematic Arts, and he is a 2010-2011 Annenberg Fellow. Christophe delights in telling compelling stories about minorities, and is both honored and thrilled to have directed What to Bring to America. You can visit his website at www.christophenassif.com
Arthur Musah, Producer
Arthur Musah is entering his second year in the graduate Film and TV Production program at the University of Southern California’s School Of Cinematic Arts. He is an Annenberg Fellowship recipient. He completed undergraduate and graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked for 4 years as an electrical engineer. Born in his mother’s country – Ukraine – raised in his father’s country – Ghana – and going into his 11th year in the United States, Arthur is interested in applying the universal elements of good storytelling to the exploration of characters defined by multiple worlds.
Benjamin Monié, Producer
Benjamin Monié is pursuing his Masters degree in Film & Television Production at USC. Before arriving in Los Angeles, Benjamin resided in New York City where he worked as a producer for CNN primetime live broadcast for the past five years. On impulse, he decided to leave his newsroom career behind to pursue his passion for filmmaking, telling himself, “you only live once!” Always on the go from day one, Benjamin grew up abroad – having lived in Kobe (Japan), Bangkok (Thailand), Lyon and Paris (France), before residing in New York and Los Angeles. He speaks both his father’s French and his mother’s English and enjoys blending these cultural influences into his stories.
J. Michael Moncrief, 1st Assistant Director
J. Michael Moncrief is completing his third semester in the graduate film program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. From an early age, film has always been a part of his life starting with watching Turner Classic Movies with his grandmother. Before attending USC he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre directing from Berry College in Georgia where he directed several mainstatge productions as well as various short subjects. Since then he has worked with several production companies including Epic Pictures as well as Wildwood Enterprises. He is thrilled to be attached to such a unique and topical project.
Nathaniel Krause, Director of Photography
Nathaniel Krause is entering his second year as a graduate student at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. After completing an undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University with concentrations in film, music, architecture and business he focused his interdisciplinary interests on the art of storytelling. Driven to bolster emotionally compelling characters with a strong visual language, he strives to ever more fully develop their personal journeys and relationships.
Katie Walker, Director of Photography
A Los Angeles native, Katie is a third year MFA Production candidate at USC focusing on Cinematography. Cinematography has been her lifelong passion, stemming from her background in darkroom photography. She enjoys working in various fields of visual storytelling from documentary to experimental to narrative, and with each project she hopes to construct an emotional bridge between the characters and audience through the visuals.
Doug Cembellin, Editing
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Doug is a 2nd year USC Cinema grad student. He is the founder and director of uCamps, an organization that produces performing arts and outdoor adventure programs for youth ages 8-18. He spent 3 years working as an acting and language teacher both in the U.S. and in China and has traveled extensively throughout North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Through narrative and documentary filmmaking, he aims to promote global consciousness as well as group and self awareness, acceptance and appreciation.
Tao Ran, Editing
Tao Ran arrived in the USA in 2009 for the MFA in Film and Television Production program at University of Southern California. She was born and raised in China. After graduating from Huazhong University of Science and Technology as a finance student in China, she followed her passion and talent for films and came to USC to study filmmaking. She was the recipient of the Charles Lang Endowed Scholarship for cinematography for the 2010 – 2011 academic year. Tao Ran used to be a script supervisor and AD for a feature film in China, and she writes and directs her films both in China and in America.
Seryna Thái, Sound
Seryna Hạnh Thái was born in Vietnam and came to America after the Fall of Saigon. After many years of being a hairdresser, she decided to return to a childhood love – art. Art gives her inspiration to overcome hurdles. She got her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, where she finished with a Hass Scholarship and reconnected with the Vietnamese culture and people. Currently, Seryna is pursuing graduate studies at USC in Film Production. She loves telling stories of marginalized people, and utilizing an avant-garde style in her films to challenge traditional norms. Her ultimate goal is to combine art mediums with cinema.
Qianbaihui Yang, Sound
Qianbaihui Yang graduated from Communication University of China and earned a B.A. in Recording Arts in 2009. Since 2005, she has participated in 11 student short films as both screenwriter and sound designer. In early 2009, she received the award of Wang Lijun Recording Arts Scholarship as the sound supervisor of a feature length film-Lost Heaven. She is also interested in music recording and mixing. In the summer of 2008, she served as an audio assistant for Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB). The multiple working experiences encourage her to a further study of cinematic arts. She is now perusing her Master’s degree in University of Southern California, focusing on sound as well as culture communication.
Simon Harding, Production Design
Simon Harding is in his second year as a graduate student at California Institute of the Arts, pursuing an MFA in Scene Design. He has been a professional set and lighting designer for over 10 years, designing numerous shows and serving as Resident Designer for SaBooge Theatre (Montreal) and Mum Puppettheatre (Philadelphia). Simon is thrilled to apply his theatrical knowledge and experience to his first film design and to discover what challenges and opportunities can be explored in this medium.
Amanda Smith, Production Design
Amanda Smith is in her third year as a graduate student at California Institute of the Arts. She is from Orlando, Florida where her love of dance and the proximity to the theme parks influenced her desire to pursue a career in arts and entertainment. She graduated from Florida International University in Miami, Florida with a BFA in Theatre. She then worked in Amsterdam for three months and toured Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Upon her return to the U.S., she worked at Mad Cow Theatre Company as Production Assistant and Lead Scenic Artist. In the summer of 2009, she participated in the CalArts’s trip to Rwanda and Uganda, meeting artists from all over the world and learning what it means to be a global artist. Amanda is continuing her study of scenic art but is also enjoying branching out into new art forms. In 2009, she worked on her first USC film project as a set painter, and then as a production designer for the first time on a CalArts student film titled Vacancy. Amanda is excited to be working on “What to Bring to America” and is looking forward to another opportunity to learn about storytelling through film.
Kara Sullivan, Casting Director
Kara Sullivan has been a casting director for four years and is the proud owner of Kara Sullivan Casting, a casting company located in Los Angeles. She has worked on a variety of projects ranging from web series for Comedy Time such as Inappropriate Boss, LA Waiter, The Ultimate Wingman, Juicy T: Pimp in Training, and recently did a webisode starring Florence Henderson called That’s Revolting. She has worked on a number of commercials such as Kelloggs, Hallmark, Boniva and Ballpark Franks starring Larry Joe Campbell from According to Jim. Kara’s credits also include films such as Freaky Faron, an HBO Latino Film Festival pick and a 2008 Cannes Film Festival pick, Exact Bus Fare starring Kevin Gage from Papparazi, and she currently has other features such as The New Year and Diary of a Madmen in pre production.
Gareth Coker, Composer
Gareth Coker is a British composer recently graduated from the University of Southern California’s Scoring For Motion Pictures And Television Program. In the last year, Gareth has pursued dozens of projects, ranging from short films to independent game projects as well as having music licensed in numerous movie trailers. A BMI affiliated songwriter since 2006, Gareth also works with various independent artists as a collaborator, remixer and producer, and has found it a wonderful way to discover new and interesting sounds. It is this interest in the diversity of sound and music that made it a no-brainer to ask to score ‘What To Bring To America’, as it presents a unique musical challenge and a chance to help dramatise an intriguing and emotional story. For more info, please visit www.gareth-coker.net