Toronto-born filmmaker Emma Seligman was “honoured” her coming-of-age comedy “Shiva Baby” had its world premiere at home at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2020.
Ahead of the movie’s wide release in Canada on Friday, March 26, we’re taking a look back at ET Canada’s Graeme O’Neil’s chat with the female director about her directorial debut and some of the film’s cast during TIFF.
Seligman, who also wrote the screenplay, said she was happy she finished her first feature film. She opened up about how she could relate to the LGBTQ+-friendly subject matter, being queer and Jewish, saying she felt “connected to this storyline and wanted to show just how terrible it can be being queer and how you’re treated sometimes.”
It was important to Seligman to show the character Emma’s bisexuality in this way.
The star of the dark comedy, Rachel Sennott, talked about bringing this movie to life with a female director. The actress opened up about how it was “so great working with my friend Emma,” who is also a first-time female feature filmmaker.
Sennott plays a college student, Emma, who lies to her parents about her failing academic career and has many secrets about her love life.
The plot of the film revolves around a shiva Emma is forced to attend by her parents, where she runs into her bitter ex Maya, played by Molly Gordon, in addition to her current lover Max, played by Danny Deferrari. Max also happens to be married to Dianna Agron’s character, Kim, with whom he has a young baby.
Sennott told Graeme that “Shiva Baby” is “relatable to anyone no matter what their background.” To which Graeme replied, think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, but it is “a funeral.”
Meanwhile, Defarrari said he was “disappointed” he couldn’t see the audience’s reaction during a live premiere, since the film made its debut virtually at TIFF 2020, “especially my mother,” he joked. And the actor enjoyed working with mostly women on “Shiva Baby”, including taking direction from Seligman, revealing that he has “very strong women” in his family and in his life.
And his onscreen wife, Agron, opened up about to Graeme about playing a “character with purpose” in Kim. The “Glee” alum revealed that she chose this part carefully, as she does all of the roles she plays, and she goes with “meaningful characters.”
Being Jewish, Agron said she could “relate to some of the characters” and the situation of being at a shiva, where you “are remembering somebody, but also seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time and reuniting as a community.”