Emma Seligman’s feature debut has found a home. Utopia Media snagged worldwide rights to “Shiva Baby” ahead of its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Variety broke the news.
Written by Seligman, “Shiva Baby” tells the story of a 20-something (Rachel Sennott) who is horrified to discover that her high school ex (Molly Gordon) and sugar daddy (Danny Deferrari) are at the same shiva she’s attending alongside her parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed).
“‘Shiva Baby’ is a female-directed, female-driven comedy that deftly navigates what it means to reckon with one’s sexuality within the Jewish community,” said Utopia’s head of content Danielle DiGiacomo. “Emma Seligman has created a sharp-witted dark comedy and Utopia is grateful for the opportunity to share female-driven film projects and stories about queer, millennial women to global audiences.”
Seligman added, “This film was made to represent the various contradictions and pressures placed upon young women, especially young queer women, from traditional families and communities and the anxiety and insecurities they feel as a result. ‘Shiva Baby’ is a comedy about a young woman grappling with her self worth, sexuality, and independence and I could not be more thrilled to be working with such a collaborative and filmmaker focused distributor like Utopia.”
“In college, sugar babies made up a huge part of my community, and growing up, I always found shivas to be the most humorous family events,” Seligman told us. “Despite the fact that someone had just died, people still ate bagels, complained, showed off their children, and crossed boundaries. I always loved that contrast and thought a shiva would be a perfectly anxious and hilarious setting for an insecure young woman to lose her mind in.”
“Shiva Baby” is based on Seligman’s short of the same name. When we asked what she’d like people to think about after seeing the film, the writer-director said, “For many young women, trying to be nice girls with secure careers ahead of them while also trying to be independent and have liberated sexualities can be insanity-inducing. I hope young women are able to watch this and feel seen in their insecurities and recognized for putting up with the contradicting and suffocating pressures put upon them,” she explained. “I hope they are able to find some humor and relief in this story.”
“Shiva Baby” is now screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.