I come to filmmaking as a writer and storyteller first and foremost, and I’ve been blessed with incredible opportunities and mentorship to hone those skills in the past few years, such as being a recent participant in the inaugural CTV Diverse Screenwriters Program. However, it has always been a dream of mine to see my work produced—to see those words on the page come alive onscreen. That is why I applied to the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival’s ‘So You Think You Can Pitch?’ competition.
Some history… I graduated from the York University Film Production and Screenwriting Program a few years ago. While there, I had the chance to work on, not only fellow students’ films, primarily as an editor, but to produce and direct a few of my own projects. This short film script, now known as “Little Miss Jihad,” was written at York, where it was well-received by both my screenwriting class and my professor, respected filmmaker Amnon Buchbinder. However, I never had the opportunity to make this film then, and I have always regretted that.
But I never lost that desire to make this film. It comes out of my own memories of 9/11—where I was when we found out about the attacks (having our school photos taken)—and that clear loss of innocence. I really did not know what terrorism meant before that day, so, in many ways, the main character, Sally Khan’s, naiveté reflects my own. All of these terrible feelings came flooding back during the recent ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
And so, I am hoping to move back to being a hands-on filmmaker for this project– something I’ve dearly missed– after focusing on writing for so long. I have realized that if I want to see my work produced, I have to take a greater responsibility for doing just that.
I believe in making my own opportunities.