The new film Shiva Baby combines the traditional week-long Jewish mourning period with a meshugenah love rectangle and overbearing family members.
Hilarious and anxiety-provoking, the film, written and directed by Emma Seligman, has now been released in select theaters and on demand, during Passover.
It’s like a kind of Jewish wake that lasts for a week and for me, and for Reform Jews and especially Ashkenazi reform, it feels like any other family event, Seligman said.
That sense of community is so helpful when you cry, said the 25-year-old Canadian filmmaker. But to me, the discussions, the topics of conversation, the vibe, feel almost exactly the same as any other kind of family reunion.
The film stars Rachel Sennott, who is not Jewish, as Danielle. She goes from part-time Sugar Baby to full-time worrying when she finds herself observing Shiva alongside not only his ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon) and mother and family friends, but also of her Sugar Daddy, the woman she didn’t know he had (Dianna Agron) and their crying young daughter.
Seligman developed the film from his short thesis at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
I felt like I understood the Jewish characters well and there were a lot of sugar babies and also just young girls struggling to have their coming-of-age sexual moments in college, he said. she explains. So I just thought this would be something I could talk about organically.
Former Glee star Agron may look like Kim, the princess shiksa she plays in the movie, but her journey is more like Seligmans.
I think even though I grew up Jewish, people don’t assume I’m Jewish based on how I look, Agron said, noting that his blonde locks are what turn people off.
But I think you walk in this world and observe others and how we interact, she said.
Sennott, 25, an actress, said she relates to her character in several ways.
I am very anxious, said the actress from Tahara. Much of my anxiety that I feel is like made up in my head where it’s like against Danielle: it’s like you should be having a panic attack.
Those who grew up in Jewish homes will undoubtedly see themselves in the film, but the cast is hoping it offers some laughs and a lesson to young women.
I think the main thing I always come back to … [is] the struggle to try to find self-esteem beyond sexual validation. I think when you feel so helpless the sexual power is so easy and building that power and love within you is actually so much harder, Seligman laughed. I think that’s part of the growth.
Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.
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