Stories Lived


Crystal McCloskey is a college student living on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. When she was very young, her father left her family, and her mother began raising her on her own. A few years after, Crystal’s mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and would berate and hurt Crystal constantly, even calling the police on her a few times. Despite this, Crystal learned to love her mother, realizing that her mother’s mental illness was at fault for the difficult relationship the maintained with her mom. As a teenager, Crystal worked to support her mother and younger siblings, walking an hour to school each day every morning at seven o’ clock, before going to work. Throughout her middle school and high school years, Crystal worked as a carpenter, seeking mentorship under a friend living in the community, who inspired her to continue her education, despite the negative influences that surrounded her. After Crystal graduated high school with honors in 2010, she took a few years off to work, in order to afford college tuition. Now in college on the Reservation, Crystal and her wife plan on finishing their education together, before moving on to bigger and better things. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

View Crystal’s story alongside others in director Fez Zafar’s new documentary, ‘The Forgotten Part of America’, which can be found at


About the Filmmaker
Submitted by Fez Zafar

Fez Zafar is a high school sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa. His films have been screened across the world, including, but not limited to: the White House, Times Square, the Orpheum Theater, the Fleur Cinema, and many more.

Fez began making movies at the age of twelve, when he used his parents’ camcorder to make a four-minute movie with his school friends, called, ‘The Zombie Apocalypse’. Less than a year later, Fez began submitting more professional-looking projects to film festivals, and he soon founded his own production company, Zef Rafaz Productions. By the end of his eight grade year, at the age, of fourteen, Fez had cultivated a portfolio of short films, music videos, and promotional videos for his own middle school.

Soon after his freshman year of high school began, Fez was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama to screen his short film, ‘Road to Unity’, a video that depicts people of different cultures, ethnicities, and religions walking together on a single road with one mission in mind: peace and harmony among all people in the world. Before he left Washington, President Obama told him this: “Keep making films.”

Less than a month later, Fez was invited to screen his film in Times Square at the busiest theater in the world: the AMC Empire 25. Soon after, his film was shown at the Brooklyn Theater in New York, the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, and almost a dozen other places.

After returning from his journey across the country to screen, ‘Road to Unity’, Fez quickly began work on his next few projects; writing, directing, and editing them concurrently. These films include: ‘Go Home’, a silent short film about a refugee who finds conflict in the United States after escaping conflict in his native country of Pakistan; ‘The Forgotten Part of America’, a documentary about Lakota Native Americans Fez filmed on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota; ‘One Last Race’, a comedic short film produced by Fez as part of the 48 Hour Film Project; and ‘Through a New Lens’, a music video filmed by Fez to recognize and raise awareness of the many unsolved problems found in our world today.

Filmmaker’s Website: