Misbah with her younger siblings Mohammad and Zebah

Over the past 10 years, CFI Education’s MY PLACE | MY STORY program has produced many powerful short films from Bay Area students.

In a recent all-girls MY PLACE program, Misbah, a young girl from Marin City, created an insightful and deeply personal short film about her experience growing up as a young Muslim teenager who wears a hijab.

Hear her story, and watch her film:

We wanted her voice to be heard, and invited her to an interview to find out what inspired her to share her very personal story, as well as find out if more films are in her future!

How did you decide on the topic of your MY PLACE story?

My objective with my MY PLACE film was to: 1) Answer all or most of the questions a lot of people around me usually want to ask and would benefit from without putting any pressure on them and, 2) Portray a typical American Muslim in a light-hearted, realistic way.

It feels like in today’s political climate, religion and talking about it has become uncomfortable and almost taboo – which it really shouldn’t be. No one should ever feel bombarded with someone else’s beliefs, but people should feel welcome to talk about it in order to prevent further ignorance in our greater community and, rather, encourage equity and understanding.

The medium of film is great because there’s no one in front of the beholder, so they don’t have to react right away or even at all – which really pushes people to think and reflect within themselves, often relieving the pressure from the sort of potentially awkward conversation most people are afraid of.

What were the most important things you learned from your participation in the MY PLACE program and how did this impact your life?

I met so many amazing people from all walks of life- hearing all of those stories really inspired me to want to explore more mediums to create art in. I’m a very creative person and I love to experiment with different mediums and learn new crafts, so I think MY PLACE really taught me that it’s never too late to learn something new, or even just in your own time – not everything has to be in school.

What was it like to show the finished film to an audience that included your family and friends?

I brought my younger siblings to watch it with me, and it felt amazing to share something I had worked so hard on in such a large venue. It made everything so real and took away my doubts about thinking it was trivial or stupid.

I think even more than having my brother and sister see it, it was amazing to hear the response of total strangers who didn’t have to say anything to me, but did nonetheless. I could tell a lot of them felt relieved or found the film somewhat refreshing because most people don’t see anything – especially in mainstream film – that humanizes Muslims or has a Muslim character that happens to be Muslim rather than have their religion define their character.

What are you up to these days?

I’m finishing up my last semester in high school – which is very tedious and also exciting and also a bit sad, so it’s a weird time.

Do you hope to make more films in the future?

I do want to create more this summer, as I do really love the actually process of filming and editing.

We look forward to seeing Misbah’s future work and we thank her for her story!

CLICK HERE to see more MY PLACE | MY STORY films

CFI Education’s MY PLACE | MY STORY program offers young people the chance to tell their personal stories through the medium of film. The entire film is fully produced by students over a five day period.