Feature Stories

MHS Alum Debuts Documentary at Twin Cities Film Fest

On Sunday, October 24, Alia Tarraf, a Disney filmmaker and Class of 1997 Minnetonka High School alum, will debut the premiere of her feature film A Hidden Star: a Documentary about Loss, Grief and Rediscovering Life at the annual Twin Cities Film Festival. A Hidden Star is a heartwarming documentary film that explores the complex emotions one deals with in the aftermath of a close friend’s death. It is Tarraf’s directorial debut.

Selected for multiple film festivals and awards across the globe, “A Hidden Star” has been named the “Best Documentary Feature” at Paris Cinema Awards, Boden International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival and more. Tickets for the event are available online through the Twin Cities Film Fest website.

 

The Story Behind the Film
After graduating from Minnetonka, Tarraf pursued her passion for film and performing and moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to work for Disney Studios’ Live Action Team. 

There, she met two other filmmakers, Allison and Mary Beth. The trio dreamed of one day starting their own production company together. However, Allison was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer the same year. 

“At that time, she was on the mend, and we thought we were in the clear,” said Tarraf. “But in 2016, it came back with a vengeance and took her very quickly. She was only 44, and we just completely shut down after her passing.” 

After Allison’s sudden death, Tarraf and her friend Mary Beth found never-seen-before diary footage of Allison’s breast cancer journey. Still overcome with grief, they decided to do what she did.They documented their own journey, but this time, it was about the grief of losing a dear friend, and the voyage they took in search of answers and hope amidst their harrowing pain. Thus, A Hidden Star was born. 

 

Q&A with Alia Tarraf ‘97
Q: First of all, congratulations on your debut feature film! Your film was selected for so many film festivals and awards. Which one are you most proud of?

“You know, the Twin Cities Film Fest is actually the one I’m most proud of...Number one, it’s my hometown, but number two, it’s such an amazing festival! When we got that email, saying ‘Hey, you guys got selected for the Twin Cities film festival,’ I just remember being so excited!”

Q: How did your time at Minnetonka High School foster your passion for filmmaking and prepare you for the work you do now?

“I really enjoyed my high school experience! Minnetonka was such a supportive environment, and I always felt very encouraged there. I was involved in cross country and [theatre] plays at Minnetonka, and I just remember feeling very supported in all my endeavors.” 

Q: What advice (on film making or life as a whole) would you give to today’s youth? 

“Filmmaking has changed so much in the last twenty years…when I was at Minnetonka, we didn’t even have social media yet. But now, I believe there’s so many opportunities to showcase your work. If you’re interested in filmmaking, shoot things on your iphone! You can cut, edit, put everything together- just start building your story; you have the tools to do so. I would just encourage anyone interested to start early.”

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity.

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