In the new film, “Bully High,” Pakistani exchange student, Maryam Ali, proudly wears her hijab, but she’s constantly harassed by fellow students.
Aneesha Madhok, the Indian American actress who portrays Maryam Ali says, “They use it to wear it as a choice because they want people to see them for their modesty, for their face rather than their appearance or their actions.”
"Bully High" is particularly relevant considering the wave of protests happening in Iran after a woman was recently murdered for not correctly wearing her hijab.
"If you can speak up about the people that are suffering around the world," continues Madhok, "if we can try to help them and be a collective group of humanitarians, that would be the best thing."
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In addition to bullying and racism, the film also delves into sexual orientation.
"Nicole [one of the characters] is the person I wanted to be as a teenager," said actress and producer Caroline Stella. "She was a lot more forthright in herself and spoke more truth at such a young age. I wasn't able to do until I graduated college."
“We are so happy that after two years we are able to do it in person," added festival co-founder Ketki Parikh.