Like many teenage girls, Nayla wants to be a cheerleader. She's been practicing with her best friend, her father has signed the permission slip, and all that's left is to do her best.
Unfortunately, her best might not be good enough. Nayla is a Muslim American who adheres to her religion's requirement that she wear a hijab, a head cover.
She secures a spot on the junior squad, but the competition judges want her to ditch the hijab.
Will she follow her desires to fit in with the American culture, or will she pass up an opportunity she has been dreaming about? It is an identity struggle that teens face all the time because of their religion, race or class status.
Never miss a local story.
That is the premise behind the fictional Tryouts, one of eight films that will be shown at The Kentucky Theatre on May 7 for Lunafest. Proceeds will benefit GreenHouse17 and the Breast Cancer Fund.
Helue Shalash, owner of Bak 4 More Studio and co-chair of Lunafest locally, has not seen Tryouts, but she is certain at least one of the films will touch her, as has happened in the past.
Shalash, who calls herself a tossed salad because of her Nicaraguan, Palestinian and American heritage, is also a Muslim. She doesn't adhere to the tradition of wearing a hijab, but she has young relatives who probably have faced similar conflicts.
"There are so many different lives out there," Shalash said. "These short films can empower you to do things. I've just been so touched.
"I used to think Luna fest catered to women 50 and over," she said. "But I take my daughter and my mother."
Geni Osborn, a financial advisor at Waddell & Reed and also co-chair of Lunafest Lexington, said the festival was "unlike anything that I have participated in. I find it inspiring, touching and motivating. They target issues that women are sensitive to."
Tryout is the longest of the films at a little more than 14 minutes, with the shortest being 3½ minutes.
Osborn saw all the films in Northern Kentucky when the festival was held there in December, and she came away realizing the films have various ways to reach people and inspire them.
"One may touch you that doesn't touch me," she said. "I love it. Relationships can take many shapes and sizes, and we don't know which ones will be important in our lives."
The eight films selected by Lunafest for this year are A Good Match by Lyn Elliot, Flor de Toloache by Jenny Schweitzer, Miss Todd by Kristina Yee, Tryouts by Susana Casares, Chicas Day by Susan Béjar, Lady Parts by Emily Fraser and Katherine Gorringe, Tits by Louisa Bertman and Viva by Amanda Bluglass.
Flor de Toloache depicts the determination of female mariachi players trying to break through the outdated traditions of the male-dominated bands. Miss Todd is about the first woman to have flown and built an airplane, in 1910. Viva is about an 82-year-old grandmother who is in the English punk music scene. Lady Parts is about Mae de la Calzada, the successful owner and founder of Lady Parts Automotive Services, and her drive to educate and empower her customers, especially single mothers. She passed away last fall.
The four other short films are fictional stories focused on health and women's issues, and one is about a woman who wants to remain friends with the mother of her ex-boyfriend.
Established in 2000 by Luna, the makers of a nutrition bar for women, Lunafest has produced a coast-to-coast traveling film festival to raise money for its special cause, the Breast Cancer Fund, and to help local nonprofits raise funds as well.
All of the net proceeds from more than 150 screenings in North America are donated to charity, with 15 percent going to the Breast Cancer Fund and, locally, 85 percent going to GreenHouse17, a Lexington-based nonprofit nurturing lives harmed by intimate partner abuse in 17 Central Kentucky counties.
Last year, Lunafest Lexington raised more than $10,000 in local support for survivors of intimate partner abuse and breast cancer.
Since 2000, 110 film makers have been featured and nearly $1.9 million has been raised nationally.
This year Lunafest is sponsored by Raymond James financial advisors.
General admission for the festival is $15, $10 for students and nonprofits. Tickets for a VIP reception and screening are $30 and include appetizers and a chance to interact with the staff of GreenHouse17.
"We all need a little help once in a while," Osborn said, "and this is a way to help in an easy way and support good works."