Writer/director Nnegest Likké is no stranger to the film business; nor is she a stranger to the festival circuit. For the second year in a row, one of her films will screen at the Pan African Film Festival. Last year, Ben & Ara, her sophmore film, had sold out screenings. This year, she’s hoping for the same level of interest and engagement for her new film, Everything But A Man, which has been nominated in the Best Narrative Feature category. We caught up with Nnegest to talk about her project and her love of African culture. Below are her answers to some of our questions.
February 9, 2017
Everything But a Man is a film about the search for love that follows a self-made, African-American career woman who sees herself as strong, successful and self-sufficient. The only thing lacking in her life is a good man but she covers up her loneliness with work and shopping.
After a bad break up, she buries her relationship woes in a new romance with a mysterious French speaking foreigner she calls on to do some handywork for her. At first it’s just physical because he’s hot. But then as they become more involved, their different lifestyles and worldviews start to clash, ultimately causing her to rethink and reevaluate all her previous notions about love, relationships and what being a strong woman really means.
Why this story?
I wanted to make this movie for two reasons. One is, I love creating stories that bridge cultural gaps. My father is Ethiopian and my Mother is African-American. Because of my bicultural background, I had the privilege of growing up deeply steeped in two cultures. I believe this cultural duality gives me a kind of three-dimensional advantage of seeing and understanding people from all backgrounds and understanding diverse points of view. Additionally, I think movies that bridge cultural gaps is a cool way of exposing audiences to other cultures they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, and gives them a bird’s-eye-view of how things look from the eyes of a person from another country. Many of us judge people from other cultures because of lack of exposure, but once we get to know them, we understand things better and sometimes even have life changing experiences from those relationships.
The other reason I made Everything But A Man is because of the growing epidemic of single successful black women, many of whom feel there is a shortage of good black men. On the other side of that coin is the perception by many black men that black women are “angry” and that’s the reason so many are single. This film explores both sides of the argument in an entertaining and comedic way.
I think everyone can be inspired by this positive and uplifting story because there are no bad guys. Just characters searching for love and in need of healing.
Ultimately, I was inspired to make this movie because of my own love for Africans and African-Americans. I am proud of both sides of my culture and dream of the day we can come together for healing and unity. Perhaps even make some babies in the process, hahaha :-))
The audience for this film is both African-Americans and Africans in Africa and around the diaspora, including those from the Caribbean Islands and from French speaking countries. The male lead in the film, played by Jimmy Jean-Louis (NBC’s Heroes), is a French-speaking black man so it will particularly appeal to French speaking blacks. It will also greatly appeal to Nigerians because Nigerian culture is a huge element to this film. The soundtrack, features music by P-Square, one of the most popular singing duos on the continent.
Interestingly, I did a genetic DNA test and found out that I am 25% Nigerian on my Mother’s side, so my African-American ancestors primarily were brought over from Nigeria. I guess that’s why I have such an affinity for Nigerian characters.
Film Reception (so far)
In test screenings and at film festivals, the reaction to the film has been overwhelmingly positive. People love the characters, even the small ones who have quite a huge impact on the storyline. They also love all the complex themes which deal with race, class, gender roles, immigration, culture-clash, and non-traditional relationships.
Despite all the positive feedback, we are still looking for the right distributor to get this movie out there on a worldwide platform. We’ve had offers but ideally we want a distributor who shares our vision for just how far such a film can go in the marketplace. There is a huge hunger for these kinds of films, and a savvy distributor will be able to capitalize on that and make lots of money in the process.
My first film, Phat Girlz, which was distributed by Fox Searchlight and starred Academy Award Winner Mo’Nique was extremely successful considering what we made it for. It did well around the world, including in the U.S. market and Europe. We sold nearly $20 million on DVD and millions more from cable and ancillary markets. I’m told Everything But A Man is even better than Phat Girlz and stands to make a lot more, so to any distributors out there reading this, give us a call!
Where to Watch
Until the film is released, we will continue our world wide film festival tour. Those who want to catch a sneak-preview of it can check our Everything But A Man Facebook page for regular updates on our festival cities and dates.
We have two upcoming screenings in Los Angeles at the Pan African Film Festival on
–Sunday Feb 12th at 5:30pm &
–Monday Feb 20th at 5:30pm
You can also get updates from my personal Twitter page.
– The African Artists’ Association Staff Writer