It’s often hard for Muslim teenagers to discover love, freedom, and sexuality while simultaneously feeling responsible for their family, their religion, and some sort of pride. The short film “Hala“, where a 16-year-old Muslim American girl falls in love with a guy and attempts to break away from her conservative, religious household by following her heart, wants to describe this dilemma.
“My parents emigrated from Pakistan to America over thirty years ago, with the hope of starting a new, better life”, director Minhal Baig tells us. “They had hoped they would keep their cultural and religious legacy by raising their children with the same principles and beliefs as the ones with which they grew up. As I reached adolescence, there was a growing rift between my parents and myself. I began to question the faith and the social conservatism with which I had been raised.”
Hala, played by Californian actress Tess Granfield, kisses, masturbates and has sex. And every free human should have the right to do so. “This is a story of a person, and of a life lived.”, Minhal adds. “Hala is as much about the silence as it is about the sound—what is unspoken, or the negative space between the words, is as meaningful as the words themselves. Hala is essential for my growth as a filmmaker, to share the experiences that have informed my human condition through this deeply personal story.”
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