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Center Grove grad's short film shows emotions of 9/11 through eyes of student

Short film follows one student's experience as an immigrant on 9/11
Posted at 7:00 AM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 19:56:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Sept. 11th, 2001 changed our way of life as Americans. Almost anyone you talk to remembers where they were and what they were doing on that day.

For many of us, we were in school as the tragic events unfolded on television screens in the front of the classroom.

One immigrant remembers that day well, and now he works to show the emotions and stresses of that day on the big screen.

"The challenge I think as like a filmmaker, director, is you are always trying to like make something that is unique and they always say write what you know," Arya Moghaddam said.

Moghaddam lives in North Hollywood, pursuing his passion as a filmmaker. But prior to that career move, he was a student in Center Grove Schools. Before that, he lived with his family in Tehran, Iran.

"We moved here in August of 2000," Moghaddam said. "And I think I was about 7."

He knew a little English from watching shows and movies in Iran and from learning a little in school, but the move was an adjustment. But he said things were good and his parents moved the family to the states for better opportunities.

However, the events of 9/11 forever changed his experience here as a young immigrant from the Middle East.

"I could understand English, I could pick up things. Like you are watching people, that's all. You are reading people's faces," Moghaddam said. "Immediately after that event, you could pick up on so many things that were different."

Moghaddam now portrays his experiences in a a fictional story and drama in a short film called "First Day."

The main character Kia is a young boy from Iran who moves to the United States, and his first day of school happens to be the day of the terror attacks.

"You get a sense of how everything was going down that day, the presence, the you know, the energy of people being frustrated," said Moghaddam, who added things got more difficult for him as an immigrant and student when reports began to circulate the plot for the attacks originated in the Middle East. "One of the biggest things that was very obvious at the time was I need to get rid of whatever accent I had at the time."

Even though his family had absolutely nothing to do with what happened on that day, and most people knew that, he was still faced with bullying that was fueled by fears, ignorance and misunderstandings.

"At the time, living in an apartment building, the following day, going to the bus stop you have different ages, different ya know people, in different situations, and that was when the you could say bullying began," Moghaddam said. "Hey do you speak jihad? And it's like no I don't speak global war. If you want to know the language is called Farsi."

He said he didn't let those types of confrontations get him down. In fact, they helped build his character and made him tough. He often used comedy as a defense mechanism to deal with the bullies. Sometimes, it would lead to more open dialogues.

"Sometimes the person would all of the sudden lose that aggressiveness and go huh! Well I didn't know. And then now, you are in a conversation you are informing them," Moghaddam said.

In "First Day," Moghaddam isn't looking to teach or push a message on the viewers. He said he simply wants people to experience the day through this character and that maybe then we can see as humans we are more alike than different, and we all have a story.

Moghaddam is now working to enter the film into film festivals across the country. You can follow along and see more from him on his studio's Facebook page.

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