Shamim Sarif is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and feature film director whose work is rooted in diversity, feminism, social impact, and humanism. As an individual of South Asian descent who identifies as LGBTQ+, she’s always been passionate about bringing stories to life that showcase characters and communities often underrepresented. “Being drawn into the interior life of a character can help us navigate the world. For that reason, it was also important to me to create narratives of hope and possibility because those were in short supply in tales of queer love when I was growing up,” Sarif says. She co-founded Enlightenment Productions with her wife, Hanan Kattan, in 2001, as a platform for underrepresented stories and filmmakers, and has herself helmed several award-winning feature films, including Despite the Falling Snow and her debut, I Can’t Think Straight. In her own life, Sarif has faced challenges when it comes to acceptance of her sexuality from her family. She has found solace in storytelling and creating a sense of validation for, and offering hope to, those struggling with similar issues. “Almost daily, [Kattan and I] get messages from women who are being oppressed and who dare not come out but who have found a sense of relief from watching one of our films—a sense of validation and, sometimes, hope,” she says. Despite the challenges, Sarif has had unwavering support from Kattan, whom she met 27 years ago. Together, they have raised two sons, both of whom have roles in Polarized, Sarif’s latest feature film. “Having this amazing family has been the best story of all,” she says.