One of the common questions I receive at screenings is how I selected the four women in the film. This is an important question in order to understand the general discourse regarding hijab. A short answer is that I didn’t select them. The participants were not cherry-picked. The four courageous women were, in fact, the first four who came forward and expressed their interests to be in the film.
After I decided to make a film about hijab by applying a method that focuses on practicing Muslim women who change their dress code, I placed “call for participant” notices on social media, community news papers, the early version of this website, and my personal network. One thing I realized researching for this project was that every Muslim woman who was in the position of changing the dress code had a different story to tell, just as each of us has different opinion and lives in a different set of social environment. At the same time, their hijab stories have a good amount of overwrap with what is shown in the film, meaning that most Muslim women who had been in this situation seem to be able to relate to the experiences, feelings and thoughts of the one or more women in the film. So, I can say that the stories in the film are a fairly good representation, certainly not exceptions, of experiences and opinions shared among practicing Muslim women in Greater Toronto Area. And most importantly, their stories look like exception because of pre-determined, over-simplified, and therefore inaccurate representation in the media.
We have to realize that we often automatically think someone who is very different from us is incomprehensible. If we start with this label of “incomprehensible” people, we make up stories and narrative by combining our imagination and extreme examples presented in the media. We also have to remember that news, a primary source of information about people that we don’t have direct contact, are by definition something unusual, extreme and unlike our everyday life. As a result, ideas that we construct by relying on news are destined to be unusual, extreme or unlike our everyday life, but these also could be unlike their normal. But as you see in the film, all the opinions presented, which is widely variant, are at least, even if you may not agree completely, understandable and make sense on the humanitarian ground to most people who are not Muslim or not religious. That, I believe, connect people together as one humanity.